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Schools making progress in getting ready to reopen on June 1 – dept

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Schools are being cleaned and the delivery of personal protective equipment is taking place

SOUTH African schools are still preparing to reopen on June 1 after shutting down due to the Covid-19 outbreak, although some have not yet received their safety material, the Department of Education said on Tuesday.

In a statement, the department said that the Council of Education Ministers met on Monday to look at the progress made so far and heard that schools were being cleaned while delivery of personal protective equipment (PPE) was taking place.

South African schools and universities have been closed since mid-March in an effort to avoid the spread of the coronavirus among pupils/students and staff. Last week the Department of Education said all public school teachers, as well as Grade 7 pupils who are set to progress to high school in 2021 and Grade 12 pupils due to write their final school exams later this year, would be required to return to class on June 1.

On Tuesday, the department said in the countdown towards that date, the focus was on ensuring that all health and safety requirements were prioritised, including pupil transport, water provision, basic hygiene and sanitation, psycho-social support and the recruitment and appointment of screeners and cleaners.

On Thursday the Council of Education Ministers will receive a final report on the progress made so far and the challenges that require attention.

A consortium led by the National Education Collaboration Trust has been appointed to monitor and confirm that all schools comply with the preconditions for the reopening of schools in light of Covid-19.

“The consortium will conduct an independent audit of the work that provinces are doing as part of the preparation towards the reopening of schools,” the Education Department said.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga is expected to sign directives this week regarding the issuing of travel permits for education purposes, Grade 12 examinations, safety measures and mass events at schools.

To date, 23 615 people in South Africa have been infected with the coronavirus ravaging the world. Out of these, 481 people have lost their lives, while 11 917 have recovered.

Several teachers’ unions have cast strong doubt on whether South African schools are ready to safely reopen on June 1, and numerous parents have also told local media they are worried about the health of their children.

– African News Agency (ANA)