The issues with schools and provinces that were not ready to reopen on June 1 had to do with sanitation and the delivery of PPE
THE DEPARTMENT of Basic Education’s assessment team has found that not all provinces were ready to reopen schools on June 1, with Rand Water yet to provide sanitation to schools in need across the country.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and a team of advisers addressed the media on Monday on what was supposed to be the first day of reopening of schools. It was envisaged that grades 7 and 12 would be returning to the classroom and other grades would be phased back in over time.
She said that following discussions and issues of supply being flagged in reports from education MECs from various provinces, along with the department’s assessments, it was decided that schools will reopen on June 8.
Schools that were ready in terms of supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) and training were urged to use this week for induction. Other schools that were not ready would have to do a “mop-up” operation this week to ensure that PPE was delivered and the training of teachers had taken place.
Only Gauteng and the Western Cape were ready to open, provinces with medium levels of readiness included the Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, Free State and North West. Provinces with a high-risk level of reopening were KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.
The issues with schools and provinces that were not ready had to do with the delivery of PPE, but mostly a large number of schools that were yet to be supplied with sanitation – which is crucial for measuring a schools readiness.
Rand Water has been commissioned by the department to supply water to over 3000 schools across the country that lacked sanitation.
The company has managed to supply water tanks to some schools and over 2 600 still needed to be supplied. In some areas, they would need to install tanks and pipes.
Sanitation is one of the crucial measures that has to be met before schools can be reopened. The issue of water supply had been flagged by unions who have bemoaned the department’s lack of assurance on readiness.
Motshekga agreed with unions that no school should be allowed to reopen unless there was a supply of water and PPE.
She is expected to meet with stakeholders again on Thursday to assess the state of readiness.
Motshekga also explained the guidelines regarding the operation of schools during Covid-19, which were published last week.
The guidelines include the requirement for permits being issued to teachers and pupils who had to travel between provinces. Teachers that have underlying illnesses would have to apply for leave to stay at home. This will be guided by a formal letter from a doctor stating the person’s ability to perform their job.
The minister also explained that parents that did not want their child to return to school were allowed to apply for homeschooling. Parents would also be required to apply to the head of the Education Department for their child to be exempted from school.
She explained that parents would need to apply for homeschooling as schooling was compulsory for pupils between the ages of seven and 15.