New dates proposed for opening of South African schools

Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga has announced that the proposed date for Grade 7 and matric learners to return to school is 1 June 2020.

This nullifies earlier assertions by other members of the Department of Basic Education that these learners would be expected to return on either 6 or 18 May.

“We will gazette an official new school calendar when we are ready,” said Motshekga.

For now, however, Motshekga said a proposed calendar has been developed and is currently being consulted on.

“We are proposing that on 4 May, the sector opens,” said Motshekga. She stressed that neither learners nor teachers will need to return to school on this date.

Instead, this date will apply to a limited group of department officials who will begin preparing for the reopening of schools.

These preparations would include measures such as the ordering of the relevant equipment, Motshekga said.

Phased return

It is proposed that school management teams will return to work on 11 May to begin preparations for the school year to continue.

While Grade 7 and matric learners may begin school on 1 June, other grades will be phased in gradually as the system becomes ready for them, Motshekga said.

She added that the 2020 and 2021 curriculums will be reworked so that all necessary academic work is covered between these two years.

Safety measures

Motshekga confirmed the Department of Basic Education will provide protective equipment such as face masks for learners in all quintiles.

This follows reports that quintile four and five schools would not receive these facemasks.

She also highlighted the following measures which will be included as part of the department’s safety plans:

  • Physical distancing in classrooms
  • No more than two learners sharing desks
  • No hugging or handshaking
  • No direct contact allowed
  • Cloth masks to be worn by learners and teachers at all times

Classrooms will also be sanitised daily and students will be screened upon arrival at school. Learners will also be required to sanitise their hands upon entering a classroom.

“We will not allow schools with challenges around water to open,” Motshekga said.

School fees

Motshekga urged people whose children attend fee-paying schools to continue to pay their school fees, as these are used to pay for governing body teachers.

If these people cannot afford the fees, Motshekga said, they should approach the school to make an arrangement regarding a payable amount.

This will help reduce the financial pressure on schools, she said.

Now read: Opening schools in South Africa – What the experts have to say

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New dates proposed for opening of South African schools