BASIC Education minister Angie Motshekga has announced the phased return of some children to school on Monday following a high-level meeting with the Council of Education Ministers on Thursday.
Motshekga told a media briefing on Sunday that her department adjusted the reopening phases based on the risk-adjusted strategy, including staggering the returning grades.
“Firstly, CEM agreed that only Grades R, 6 and 11 will return to school tomorrow, Monday, 06 July 2020,” said Motshekga.
“CEM also noted that provinces may be at different levels of readiness for return of Grade R learners. Therefore, CEM agreed that those provinces that are not ready to receive Grade R on 06th July 2020, must provide strategic and realisable plans for ensuring the reincorporation of Grade R learners to schools within, but not later than the end of July 2020. However, the provinces that are ready to receive Grade R learners on Monday, 06th July 2020, can proceed to receive those learners.”
Motshekga said by the end of July, over 2 million children are expected to have returned to school to continue with the 2020 academic year.
“Since the reopening 968 schools were closed and opened, that’s 4%, less than 1% of our teachers were affected by the virus and 0,1% of our learners were detected with the virus,” said Motshekga.
KwaZulu Natal, the North West and Limpopo were the first provinces to admit that they would not be able to receive Grade R learners, saying that they did not want to put the lives of the children at risk.
She said those schools that meet the health, safety, and social distancing protocols can reopen for their Grade R and pre-Grade R learners.
“Those schools that meet health protocols can reopen for Grade R’s and pre-Grade R’s on Monday,” said Motshekga.
The department’s Director General Mathanzima Mweli said in total Grade R learners make up 6.3%, Grade 6 constitute 8% and Grade 11’s 6.6% of the total number of learners who are set to return by the end of July.
Motshekga added that the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Gauteng have recorded the highest number of infections for both teachers and learners.
“We unfortunately lost the lives of eleven (11) teachers and four (4) non-teaching staff in the Eastern Cape to the virus; as well as three (3) learners, who are reported to have succumbed to COVID-19,” said Motshekga.
“The reports show that some of these teachers and learners could not have the opportunity of reporting back to school on school reopening. We convey our deepest condolences to the affected families. May their dear souls rest in eternal peace … Due to the infection rate, it is clear that we need to continue to work together to contain the transmission of the virus. As the basic education sector, we have to play our part together, with all our strategic stakeholders and partners.”
(Compiled by Inside Education staff)