Parents and teachers unions have been concerned about whether South Africa’s schools are ready to reopen on Monday, June 8. Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga today [Sunday, June 7] hosted a media briefing to inform the public on where school readiness is as schools resume tomorrow [June 8].

“So we did inform the public, that based on those critical reports, we resolved that provinces should use the week of the 1st to the 8th [of June] to sort out all outstanding issues,” the Minister said.

According to Motshekga, it was agreed that schools who had already received the necessary personal protective equipment (PPEs) should return on June 1.

“A school that is not compliant will not be able to open,” she said. “I must say that it is very gratifying that indeed provinces stepped up that all pre-requisites were attended to during this ‘mop up’ week.” 

Daily reports are submitted on the readiness of schools in each province, and according to the Minister, they also confirm that the schools have come a long way to be ready by Monday.

“A number of provinces which were initially classified as high risk, have improved to medium risk. There are no provinces at high risk,” she said.

Approximately 95% of schools are now ready to reopen, and safe to receive learners, teachers and other staff. “The golden rule is, there will be no school that will resume, if not ready to do so. For the remaining 5% or so, alternative measures have been developed by different districts such as temporarily using neighboring schools, using underutilized spaces in boarding schools and putting other learners in camps,” she said.

“Other than affirming health, safety and social distancing measures and requirements, the directions upholds the phased reopening of public and independent schools, starting with Grades 7 and 12 on 1 June 2020; followed by a cluster of Grades on 6 July 2020; and the last cluster of Grades reopening on 03 August 2020. We are in the process of revising the 2020 school calendar year, to accommodate the peculiarities’ brought by the novel Covid-19 pandemic.”

Where possible, learners from the ‘not-so-ready schools’ will be moved to neighbouring schools that meet the health, safety and social distancing set measures and requirements to be deemed “safe” from COVID-19.

Motshekga also appeals for members of the public not to visit schools unless by appointment only, for health and protocol reasons.
Department director general Mathanzima Hubert Mweli made a presentation on the readiness of schools across the country.
“Out of 23 675, 23 100 schools were declared ready as facilities to receive learners on Monday [June 8],” he said.
The public is also urged to remember that only 13.4% of pupils will be returning to school on Monday, as the reopening is phased.
“The total number of all learners is 13.1 million. So we are only receiving 1.6 million learners from Monday, which is 13.4%,” Mweli said.
A total of 95% of the country’s schools are ready to receive pupils from Monday onwards.
Next, each province’s education MEC made their way to the podium. According to Western Cape MEC Debbie Schäfer, 11 schools won’t open on Monday because they have infection cases. Two other schools have ”water issues”, which means they do meet the sanitisation needs set out by health protocols.
Distances will be maintained at schools and schools are working on a plan to maintain the distancing once more pupils return to school,” Schäfer said.
A total of 66 staff members from 55 different schools in the Western Cape  have contracted COVID-19.
While all schools will open in Limpopo, more than 100 KwaZulu-Natal schools will not reopen as a result of water and sanitation challenges.

Approximately 43 schools in Mpumalanga will not resume on Monday because no water tanks have arrived at these schools. A total of 147 schools were vandalised in the province, 77 had to be fixed, and the remainder require minor repairs such as fixing broken windows.

Meanwhile, the Gauteng province has almost 155 nurses available for schools. A total of 30 schools have staff who have tested positive of COVID-19. The list of these schools will be posted on the department’s website.

Parents who are unable to afford paying school fees are encouraged to approach the principal of their child’s school or the school governing body to present their cases.

The deadline for the option of home schooling has been extended to September for Gauteng. Parents are also advised to remember that online learning is not just an option specific to one province, but for the entire country.

Picture: Twitter

Article written by

Lucinda Dordley

Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.