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Dept ready for influx of learners

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More than 216 000 learners in the Northern Cape are expected to be back in their classroom on Monday, August 24, 2020.

More than 216 000 learners are expected to be back in the their classroom on Monday. File image. Picture Courtney Africa African News Agency

MORE than 216 000 learners in the Northern Cape are expected to be back in their classroom on Monday, August 24, 2020.

The Department of Education said Grade 5 and Grade 8 learners would only return a week later on August 31 2020.

Department spokesperson, Geoffrey van der Merwe, said on Friday that the department was ready for the influx of learners on Monday.

“We have prepared for the return of 216 754 learners across all grades, except for grades 5 and 8, who will return on August 31, 2020.

“We have deployed Members of the Executive Council, PROVJOINT members as well as senior management of the department to schools in all five districts where they will monitor and assess the return of the next cluster of grades. These visits will enable the department to immediately address any challenges that might arise at schools,” Van der Merwe said.

He added that all precautions had been taken to ensure the safety of staff and personnel.

“All schools have received their required personal protective equipment in line with the Covid-19 regulations and guidelines. Schools revised their timetables according to the model they have opted to use in terms of platooning, alternative days/weeks and the hybrid model to maintain social distancing in the classroom and on the school premises,” he said.

He said necessary arrangements had been made for the academic support of learners.

“To ensure academic support to learners with comorbidities, learners with ill-health, those exempted from attending school and those learning through virtual/online platforms, the Northern Cape Department of Education has developed Learner Support Packages for each subject in all grades to ensure continued learning.

“The Learner Support Packages have been developed as self-study packages that are accessible with easy to follow (written) instructions.

“The Learner Support Packages are currently being printed and will be distributed to all districts by next week. All our efforts are geared towards saving the school academic year, with a specific focus on our Grade 12 learners. We have identified seven centres across the Province, where approximately 3 000 Grade 12 learners will be incubated for a period of three to four months. We are busy finalising all the arrangements in this regard as these camps will function as normal schools where teaching, learning and assessments will be prioritised.

“The incubation camps are necessary to ensure that learners are well prepared and ready for the 2020 National Senior Certificate (NSC) Examinations,” said Van der Merwe.

He said the department had also made provision for providing daily nutritious meals through its feeding scheme.

Van der Merwe advised parents who opted to keep their children at home, to make the necessary arrangements with the department.

“We are encouraging parents to send their children to school and wish to remind parents that they must apply via the school to the Head of the Department for exemption from attendance if the child has underlying medical conditions; if they have concerns for family members who are over 60 years; have underlying medical conditions; or if parents opt for their children to receive online learning and teaching at home.

“We must reiterate that if parents opt to keep their children at home, their child’s learning at home will be their responsibility and they should ensure that they collect learning material every week from the school and submit the work back to the school on a weekly basis for marking and assessment.

“We would also like to express a word of appreciation especially to our parents and learners for their commitment towards education.”

He added that it was important for learners to attend school.

“We have put in place the necessary systems and precautionary measures to ensure their health and safety. Our teachers have been at the forefront and relentless in their efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19 in our schools, and for that we are very grateful. We will continue to provide our unwavering support to all our schools as we navigate through this difficult period,” Van der Merwe said.