The country’s schools were prematurely shut on Wednesday, 26 March 2020, a day before government implemented a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the Coronavirus.
With the country moving to alert level 3 of the nationwide lockdown, schools were directed to reopen following a decision taken by the National Coronavirus Command Council that the doors to learning reopen in a phased approach and under strict health conditions from the 1 June 2020 starting with grades 7 and 12.
Under the regulations governing the reopening of schools, learners and staff are required to undergo screening every day before entering the school premises and must have PPE’s in the form of face masks. Sanitisers must also be delivered for the use of all on the school grounds.
With just four days to go until 1 June, Education Minister Angie Motshekga visited Ivory Park and Seshego Secondary in Olievenhoutbosch to assess the schools’ readiness.
“We are working towards the 1 June because just re-orientating the space is not easy. We are expecting that on Monday and Tuesday we can use for inductions, reorientation and to make sure that we can thoroughly deal with the health issues.
“On Monday, I’m expecting them to deal with the orientation and the distribution of PPEs to kids, making sure that every child has their own books,” said the Minister.
Motshekga said she expects learning to effectively resume on Wednesday.
“On the 1st of June whoever is ready must start but if they didn’t get their PPEs in time its fine we won’t force them to start if they don’t have the relevant protective clothing,” said the Minister.
On the phasing in of other grades, Motshekga said her department will look at the capacity of schools on a case by case basis.
“We have an audit team that will visit school by school so that we don’t take chances when the school says it is ready and we open. For now I really want to focus our priority on the grade 7 and 12 and see how the system is able to cope and stabilise because it is a new environment.
“When we feel confident that our feet are firmly on the ground we will then deal with each institution case by case,” she said.
On the reopening of special needs schools, Motshekga said given the low learner numbers at some of these schools, some have already been given the greenlight to reopen.
The Minister emphasised that the determination on the reopening of some special schools will also be made once the sector has monitored the impending reopening.