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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Back to school for learners across the country

NYAKALLO TEFU|

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) said learners will this week return to school for the second term of the academic year after a week-long break.

DBE spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said learners will continue to go to school on a rotational basis as the department intensifies its implementation of the safety campaign aimed at saving lives and livelihoods.

The rotational approaches were introduced to ensure that the coronavirus does not spread rapidly at schools and is contained as much as it can be. 

But this is about to change.

Mhlanga said the department is currently investigating the possibility of returning all learners at primary school level due to the learning loses suffered as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.

He said the proposal is being considered at the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) where the department has since delivered a presentation at the relevant work streams. 

“The Council of Education Ministers (CEM) will also consider the matter this week,” said Mhlanga.

The proposal comes at a time when some countries have reported spikes and new variants in the virus.

In South Africa, the vaccine rollout has come slower than expected bringing about worries that the country could experience a third wave of COVID-19 infections.

This is the greatest concern among parents. Some have questioned the proposal to re-open schools while there are fewer people to enforce Covid-19 restrictions in schools.

Mhlanga said the department will ensure the health and safety protocols remain in place with social distancing, washing of hands and sanitizing being the basic hygiene practices that must be adhered to at all times. 

He said the Council of Education Ministers will hold a two-day meeting on Thursday and Friday to deliberate on key issues affecting the basic education sector.

Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi said he supported the minister’s decision to bring back all primary school pupils.

Lesufi said he strongly believed that the current rotational system was disadvantaging pupils.

Adding that the successful conclusion of term one for the 2021 academic year has emboldened his resolve to deliver quality education to all pupils in our province, even during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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