The Gauteng Education Department has told principals in the province that they do not need to “strictly enforce” 1-metre social distancing, reports the Sunday Times.
This was reportedly communicated to these principals in a virtual meeting on school readiness, which took place on Thursday.
A slide shown during the presentation said that the national standing operating procedures “do not prescribe one-metre spacing but promote the principle of striving for a one-metre distance where possible”.
This assertion contradicts the actual procedure documents, which say that school bodies must ensure social distancing requirements are met.
Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga reiterated yesterday that schools must still abide by national health protocols.
“Some provinces have already experimented around, even changing seating arrangements – remove desks, get chairs, so if people have chairs and they write on the laps you give them lap-desks,” she said.
“It’s better than getting them to be playing in the streets.”
Schools set to open
Schools are set to open on Monday following the adjustment of the winter holidays to reduce schooling time lost during the third wave.
The return date for schools was then extended from 19 July until 26 July to account for the devastating third wave that continued to ravage the country.
Motshekga confirmed yesterday that as long as President Cyril Ramaphosa allows for it when he speaks later today, schools will go ahead with their 26 July reopening.
“School Management Teams and support staff have already gone back to work as from Thursday, 22 July 2021 to prepare for the return of learners and teachers on Monday, 26 July 2021,” Motshekga explained.
“The sector continues to be committed, and at all times we are ready to maintain a balance between saving lives and livelihoods while fighting the coronavirus pandemic,” the minister said.
Motshekga also confirmed that the country is prepared to resume full school attendance in primary schools from 2 August, as opposed to current rotational systems.
Schools were vandalised during the recent Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal riots, and Motshekga expressed her concern regarding this matter.
The KZN Department of Education has also submitted a list of 137 schools that were affected, as well as three education centres and eight circuit offices.
Eleven schools have also reportedly been vandalised in Gauteng since schools were shut down because of the national third wave.