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Back to School for SA's at-risk teachers

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Today marks the first day of “freedom” in months as South Africa wakes up to relaxed lockdown restrictions and teachers prepare to get back into their daily class schedules.

It’s back to school for the more than 22 500 teachers who were given permission to work from home during level 3 and 2 of the National State of Disaster.

This doesn’t mean that the precautions such as proper hand hygiene and social distancing must take a back seat though – scientists are still working on a vaccine.

The school day as we know it is a thing of the past - welcome to the new normal!

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the move to level 1 on 16 September, as SA showed a decrease in the number of new virus cases, deaths and hospital admissions.

“Since the country has gone down to level 1, the risk has been brought down to low, hence the risk for these teachers has reduced considerably.

“The implication of the announcement by the President of moving the country to alert level 1 means the concession to work from home will no longer apply from midnight on Sunday, 20 September 2020,” said the Department of Basic Education (DBE).

However, those teachers who are still not well are advised to follow the normal sick leave protocols.

The provincial Departments of Education have been urged to honour contractual responsibilities by still employing substitute teachers.

“School principals are requested to rework the timetable to accommodate all teachers returning to work as from Monday.”

The DBE said School Management Teams and School Governing Bodies should adjust the learners' timetable to ensure that social distancing measures are being taken.

School communities have been urged to familiarise themselves with DBE directions in Government Gazette 43715, published on 15 September; President Ramaphosa’s speech; Education Labour Relations Council agreement 1 of 2020, and the Revised Standard Operating Procedures.

“The department continues to make safety as a priority in the sector, particularly under the COVID-19 conditions,” said the DBE. 

Download the latest DBE Government Gazette 43715.pdf here 

Included is a form to exempt certain learners from returning to school due to an underlying health condition or a general concern of being infected at school. The form must be completed by the parent/caregiver/designated family member.

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