The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education has welcomed the Basic Education Department’s state of readiness and plans as more learners are scheduled to return to school under level 3 of the COVID-19 enforced lockdown.
The Department of Basic Education briefed the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, and the Select Committee on Education and Technology, Sport, Arts and Culture on the state of readiness to welcome more learners and educators to schools on Tuesday.
The department told the committee that more grades are expected to go back to school during the next phase on between 1 and 6 July 2020. This follows the first phase, which started with the return to school of Grades 7 and 12 in early June.
The department said the plan of reopening schools involves different models, which will make sure that only 50% of learners are present to allow social distancing in class.
The different models, the department said, include a situation where learners attend bi-weekly (week 1 - 50% of learners and week 2 - the other learners who did not attend in week 1), or learners rotating to be present at school every second day.
“The other model is where two groups of learners of up to 50% attend on a platoon basis (one group in the morning, and another in the afternoon),” the department told the committee.
Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba, said the committee welcomed the department’s readiness and commitment to ensure that all health and safety protocols are observed, as well as its commitment to provide personal protective equipment (PPE).
However, Mbinqo-Gigaba said the committee members are concerned about the number of teachers and learners who have tested positive for Coronavirus, as well as teachers who are over the age of 60 years, who could be at risk due to underlying comorbidities.
“Committee members will, as part of their Parliamentary oversight responsibilities, continue to monitor the situation at schools to make sure that all the necessary regulations are adhered to,” Mbinqo-Gigaba said.