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No news on schools yet

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An announcement regarding the schooling system – both basic and higher education – was supposed to have been made but was postponed at the last minute.

ANXIOUS parents and teachers will have to wait a while longer to find out what the plans for the schools system are amid the Covid-19 crisis. 

An announcement regarding the schooling system – both basic and higher education – was supposed to have been made on Monday but was postponed at the last minute.  

While some universities have commenced with online classes and some schools also have virtual lessons, the majority of South Africans in schools have been left out. They have to either catch up on their lessons through SABC TV channels and on radio. 

The department of Basic education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said the briefing by ministers Angie Motshekga and Dr Blade Nzimande was postponed to later this week. 

“The postponement is necessitated by the need to align with other interventions that are taken by the National Command Council later this week,” Mhlanga said. 

Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the relaxation of some of the national lockdown rules from May 1. With some parents heading back to work, the decision on the reopening of schools is eagerly awaited. 

Mhlanga said the department was tracking the Covid-19 infection rates. “Decisions on education are based on the assessment done daily.  Whatever criticism you level against the Department, keep in mind that we are dealing with a dangerous virus which has killed people already. We need to remember also that the Department had never published a date for the reopening of schools. The anxiety is caused by fake news and leaked discussion documents. That context is critical, never lose sight of the fact that the COVID-19 is a new situation and we have no previous experience on it,” Mhlanga said. 

Some of  the leaked discussion documents include the Gauteng education department’s catch up plan for learners in the further education and training phase. The plan envisaged schools reopening on May 4 for matric candidates and June 3 for the Grade 10s. 

Business studies, accounting, maths and maths literacy teachers in the FET phase would also be trained on e-marking so they don’t have to congregate at schools and marking centres, claimed the document. 

Some of the plans for catch-up include after school camps for all schools. The plan is that each camp take up to 360 learners. At the camps, each learner would receive masks and hand gloves at the gate. They would also be offered hand sanitizer once inside.  

Each block with 90 learners and won’t be allowed to move among the blocks. Each class would accomodate 30 learners. To further enforce social distancing, the different groups would leave the venue  per block at 15 minute intervals. Teachers would also enforce 1.5m distancing both in and outside the classroom. 

Transport that will be bringing the learners to the study camps would have to also offer them masks and gloves.  A 65 seater bus would have to carry 30 learners while a 14 seater taxi would carry seven learners. 

When it comes to sleepover camps,  learners  and teachers will have to be tested when going to the residential camps. 

The residential camp must accommodate between 150 and 300 learners and have 10 classrooms.