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Schools set to re-open on June 1

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says schools – including those in Mangaung and other metros hard hit by the coronavirus – will re-open on June 1 as planned following approval by the cabinet and the National Coronavirus Command Council.

She announced the plan on Tuesday night following extensive meetings with provincial MECs, unions and school governing bodies.

Motshekga said she was well aware of the pressure placed by the coronavirus pandemic and that this has not been easy on parents, teachers and schools.

She said they have had to strike a balancing act which involves dealing with the safety issue and also saving the academic year.

The first batch of pupils who will go back to school on June 1 will be Grade 12 and Grade 7 learners.

The minister said the return of other grades would be discussed later.
“Grade 7s will have the whole schools to themselves and the Grade 12s will have the whole schools to themselves. The issuing of phasing has been considered. Learners will be screened every day,” Motshekga said.

She said on June 1, all schools including those in the metros and private schools will be open.

Earlier this month, Motshekga said the draft proposal had envisioned that teachers would be going back to work from May 18, but because of delays with the delivery of protective equipment and other sanitation resources, teachers will now have to start on May 25.

She said an updated and adjusted calendar of the school year would be published soon.

The 2020 schooling year would greatly affect the 2021 academic calendar.

The issue of the provision on sanitation and feeding schemes would be handled, Motshekga said.

With the feeding schemes, she said handlers would be trained and that the service would resume from June 1.

On the provision of water and sanitation, Motshekga said her department was working closely with the department of water and sanitation to ensure the delivery of water tanks.

“We have had to focus on water sanitation. The question of water and sanitation is part of the plans,” she said admitting that her department has had a poor record when it came to issues of sanitation at poor schools.

Motshekga said she had been receiving regular updates from provinces on the state of readiness.

She said by next week, as the countdown begins, they would have a breakdown of how many water tanks, masks and hygiene products were delivered.

The minister defended the decision to re-open schools and cited reports from international humanitarian bodies that said a prolonged delay of schooling impacted children immensely, such as causing stress from prolonged separation from peers.

“Schools are good for children,” Motshekga said. – IOL

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