Deputy Minister of Basic Education Reginah Mhaule has announced the reopening of South Africa’s schools has been delayed due to the impact of the second wave of COVID-19 in the country.
“Given the pressure experienced by the health system in the past few weeks occasioned by the increased COVID-19 infections which has led to the second wave, the Council of Education Ministers (CEM), in conjunction with the National Coronavirus Command Council and Cabinet has taken the decision to delay the reopening of both public and private schools by two weeks,” Mhaule said.
“This is done to provide relief to the health system, which is already struggling to cope with the current demand.”
“The CEM took this difficult decision having considered all factors as backed up by research and statistics regarding the current state of the health system. The priority remains saving lives,” she added.
Mhaule stated that all the stakeholders which were consulted in the process were united in supporting a delay in the opening of schools.
“We consulted the Council of Education Ministers, the heads of education departments, the national school governing body associations, teacher unions, learner formations, principal associations, as well as the association representing independent schools, and learners with special education needs,” the deputy minister said.
For public schools and private schools which follow the same calendar, the deputy minister announced the changes as follows:
- School management teams (SMTs) shall report for duty on Monday 25 January 2021
- Teachers will follow on Monday 1 February 2021
- Learners will return on Monday 15 February 2021
The new dates for the reopening of other private schools will vary depending on their own particular calendars.
The deputy minister added that DBE will work closely with provincial education departments to establish the true extent of the impact of the virus resulting from the demise of educators, workers, and leaders in the sector, particularly during the holidays.
Latest COVID-19 figures
As of Thursday 14 January 2021, South Africa had recorded a cumulative total of nearly 1.3 million positive COVID-19 cases.
An increase of 18,503 new cases was noted over the last 24 hours after additional tests had been taken into account.
COVID-19-related deaths increased by 712, bringing the total number of fatalities in the country attributed to the virus to 35,852, while recoveries stood at 1,049,740.
The highest number of deaths occurred in the Eastern Cape, followed by the Western Cape, and Gauteng.
— Dr Zweli Mkhize (@DrZweliMkhize) January 14, 2021