Pay your school fees, wear a mask and teach your children about Covid-19 – but at no time did Motshekga go into detail on how she plans to implement the phased-in approach.
After delays, miscommunication and much confusion, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has finally outlined the framework for learners returning to school for the remainder of the academic year.
But after almost 15 minutes of speaking, parents are still very confused. At no time during her speech did Motshekga go into detail on the phased-in approach she intends to take when it comes to primary and high schools around the country.
She did, however, mention that after much consultations within the sector, the main aim was to find ways of getting back to work without compromising the lives of learners, teachers and employees.
“In all the meetings the principle of opening of schools at the right time was accepted once all the conditions have been met,” said Motshekga.
After much deliberation, the following were proposed.
PPE for all learners and educators
All parties affected requested the department to provide Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). The department should also provide awareness campaign to parents particularly in rural areas. They also proposed that the phased in reopening should also include special schools.
Learner support interventions
The Council of Education Ministers (CEM) agreed to focus on a catch-up programme, and double efforts towards the promotion of learning and teaching in homes; and towards the preparation a catch-up programme, when children do go back to school.
How Matric exams will be affected
The DBE has taken a decision to postpone the May/June Matric rewrite examinations. The examinations will therefore, be merged with the November examinations. A new time-table for the merged exams will be communicated urgently, as part of preparing the system for the biggest Matric examination ever seen in the country.
Basic Education once again urged all parents to continue paying school fees. For those parents who are unable to pay fees, the department advised them to approach the school and communicate your challenges.
Phased-in recovery plan
Each province, district, circuit and school, must have a practical and comprehensive catch-up plan to be implemented. The plans must talk to the risk profiles of the areas in which schools are located, and this must be based on the infection rate in the specific geographic areas.
Senior education officials will return to work on May 4 to start putting in place all the necessary interventions that will allow teachers to return to school from May 18. Learners in Grades 12 and 7 are expected to return to school on June 1.
Motshekga stressed that physical distancing in classrooms will includes no more than two learners sharing desks. No hugging or handshakes, and learners and teachers must wear face masks at all times.
Classrooms will also be sanitized each day before the start of the school day. As far as water sanitation is concerned, the DBE will participate in an initiative to get water tanks installed at the identified schools, and to get portable water delivered to these tanks.