Department for Basic Education (DBE) Minister Angie Motshekga has published the amended school calendar for 2020.
The four school terms for 2020 are now gazetted as follows:
- Term 1: 15 January – 18 March
- Term 2: 8 June – 7 August
- Term 3: 12 August – 23 September
- Term 4: 5 October – 15 December
This new calendar means that between Term 2 and Term 3 there will only be a single day’s holiday, as Monday 10 August is a public holiday.
However, to provide some compensation for this, Term 3 will only comprise seven weeks.
This calendar has been orchestrated in such a way that there will only be one public holiday throughout 2020 that results in a day taken off school – taking place on 16 June.
Schools were closed on 18 March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and, following a lengthy hiatus, were set to reopen on 1 June for Grade 7 and 12 learners.
However, this date was postponed by a week because the majority of schools were not ready to take learners.
Schools finally reopened to these learners on 8 June, although schools that are not ready to accept these learners in accordance with the guidelines set out by the DBE are not allowed to do so.
DBE director-general Mathanzima Hubert Mweli said that according to DBE data, 97.6% of South African schools were ready to accept Grade 7 and 12 learners as of 7 June.
This translates to 23,100 of 23,675 schools whose facilities were ready to take learners.
Additionally, chief executive of Rand Water Sipho Mosai said that Rand Water has been able to provide water tanks to 2,443 of the 2,634 schools that needed them.
Grade 7 and 12 learners whose schools were not yet ready for them would get access to alternative measures which have been developed by different regional departments, the DBE said.
These included sending these learners to nearby schools, using excess boarding school facilities, and putting learners in camps.
Reopening of other grades
While the DBE has reopened schools for Grade 7 and 12 learners, learners from other grades are yet to return to school.
This poses a problem for parents who need to return to work but don’t have anyone to look after their children.
Government has said previously that it will phase in other grades when it is determined that schools are ready to take them.
However, in a Government Gazette published on 1 June, return dates were provided for all grades.
These dates were as follows:
- Grade 7, 12 – 1 June 2020
- Grade 1, 2, 3, 6, 10, 11 – 6 July 2020
- Grade 4, 5, 8, 9 – 3 August 2020
The gazette states that schools may be allowed to deviate from the phased-in return of grades on specific dates.
This is as long as they comply with minimum measures and requirements, and apply to reopen for these other grades to the head of department in their province.