While sceptics have cautioned the government’s apparent hasty decision of granting the reopening of schools in South Africa, the Department of Basic Education has advised that it is ready to action a plan to get pupils back in class.
Back to school looms for South African pupils
On Wednesday, a special briefing was held by the ministry of education which is chaired by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande and his colleague, Angie Motshekga, who runs the Basic Education Department.
It was at this briefing that we learned of the department’s plan to fast-track the reopening of schools. As expected, the news was unwelcomed by many who believe that this is an immature decision, seeing that the country has not managed to flatten the curve.
According to the latest coronavirus (COVID-19) statistics, there are about 4 996 known cases, with 93 deaths recorded thus far.
However, according to the department, there are measures in place to ensure that phasing in the reopening of schools does not exacerbate the problem.
Schools reopening in SA: This is how it will work
Those who had hoped on a cancelled academic year in 2020 were let down by the assertions made by the department’s deputy minister Reginah Mhaule, who made it clear that “on the 18th, our children are going to school.”
This plan, she said, may not be final but it is the guide that will be used to phase in schooling once the National Command Council, chaired by President Cyril Ramaphosa, approves it.
So, without further ado, this is the department of education’s plan to see schools reopening as early as May.
- There is no definitive date but the government is looking at either Wednesday 6 May or Monday 18 May as commencement dates to restart the curriculum.
- On the start date, only Grade 7 and 12 pupils will be allowed to return to class.
- Two weeks later, Grade 6 and 11 pupils will follow.
- This pattern will continue for each set of grades at either end of the spectrum until Grade Rs are allowed to return to class, hopefully no later than 15 July.
- Pupils and teachers will be screened for COVID-19 as soon as schools reopen and those suspected to be infected with the virus will be isolated and tested.
- A class will hold no more than 40 pupils and schools will be strict in practising social distancing.
- Only matrics will be subjected to the curriculum’s full examination. Other grades will revise 80% of the curriculum.
- Mid and year-end matric examinations have been provisionally moved to November and December.
More details are expected from the department about how this plan will be executed and we will have to await further instruction from Parliament’s portfolio committee on education once they’ve concluded their virtual strategy meeting.