Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says that, while most schools are prepared for the strategic reopening of the educational sector, schools that lack the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) will not be allowed to do so.
With the entire country moving to alert level 3 of the lockdown on the 1st of June, the decision to reopen grades 7 and 12 in schools was made by the National Coronavirus Command Council – albeit in a phased approach and under strict health conditions.
Going hand in hand with the resumption of classes is the strict requirement for teachers and learners to follow strict safety protocols throughout the day. This includes daily screening and mandatory face masks before entering the premises.
Motshekga visited Ivory Park and Seshego Secondary in Olievenhoutbosch to assess the schools’ readiness to accommodate students again.
“We are working towards the 1st of 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.
The minister said that she expects schools to be ready on the expected date.
“On the 1st of June whoever is ready must start, but if they didn’t get their PPEs in time it's fine, we won’t force them to start if they don’t have the relevant protective clothing,”
On the phasing in of other grades, Motshekga said her department will send an audit team to visit schools to assess its capacity and level of readiness so as to not “take chances”.
“For now, I really want to focus our priority on 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 emphasised that the determination on the reopening of some special schools will also be made once the sector has monitored the impending reopening.
However, the minister did add that, given the small numbers of learners at some of these institutions, some have already been given the green light to reopen.