Directions and regulations for the phased reopening of schools have been issued and gazetted by the Department of Basic Education.

These regulations dictate how schools will operate as the spread of  COVID-19 continues and includes dates for reopening. It also includes guidelines for parents who decide not to send their children to school.

As we know, Grade 7 and 12 learners returned to school on June 1, 2020. According to the gazette, the phased reopening will continue as follows:

On July 6, 2020, Grades R, 1, 2, 3, 6, 10, and 11 will return. Schools for learners with Severe Intellectual Disabilities (SID) will welcome back learners of Grades R, 1, 2, 3, and final year. Finally, Schools with autistic learners will reopen for the Junior Group (those below 13 years of age) and final year (those 18-years-old and above).

On August 3, 2020, Grades 4, 5, 8, and 9 will return. Schools for learners with Severe Intellectual Disabilities (SID) will welcome back learners of Grades 4 and 5. Schools with autistic learners will reopen for the Senior Group (those 13-years-old and above).

The gazette added that schools would only be allowed to be open if they have complied with the minimum health, safety and social distancing measures on COVID-19, which have been issued to schools already.

“A school or office that has failed to comply with the minimum health, safety and social distancing measures on COVID-19, as contemplated in these directions and the Regulations, will remain closed until all the health, safety and social distancing measures are in place,” it says.

Parents of learners who do not return to school after the phased return need to apply to the Head of the Department of Education. The child may be exempt from school attendance entirely, partially, or conditionally, if it is in the best interest of the pupil.

This, however, is dependent on whether the parent has made an effort to ensure the child continues learning from home. Parents must also comply with the legal requirements for the provision of home education.

The regulations allow for schools to deviate from the phased return to school with regards to specific grades or dates provided that they have complied with the minimum health, safety and social distancing measures and have notified the Department of Basic Education.

Should a school be found not to have complied with the measures and requirements, the deviation from the phased return could be revoked and the school may be closed until they comply.

Examinations will take place but at a later date than usual. “The May/June 2020 examination for candidates who registered for the Senior Certificate and the National Senior Certificate will be administered in November/December 2020,” reads the gazette.

“The November/December 2020 National Senior Certificate examinations will be administered as planned, subject to the alignment of the timetable to the 2020 revised school calendar.

Hostels are also allowed to open under strict regulations.

Find the full Gazette here.

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