The Ministers of Education briefed the nation on measures that will be taken regarding the school year as the country shifts to Level 4 lockdown on May 1.

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Blade Mzimande announced that students at higher education institutions will not return to campus once Level 4 is implemented, except for final year clinical health students. Students will, however, be required to continue their studies online.

No campus based activities will resume as of yet. All stakeholders consulted agreed that learners should only return to school in a phased manner.

Nzimande said that funding has been set aside for the training of over 18 000 frontline health workers and others through online information sessions. Unemployed social workers will be placed in a 12 month internship to help communities in certain aspects.

To support students, the Department is working on acquiring equipment and will supply data to enable students to access online learning. Various resources will be made available on the Department of Higher Education’s training website.

NSFAS funding and learner stipends will continue to financially assist beneficiaries.

The school holidays will be revised, with the June July will falling away.

Other key steps to resume higher education learning include:

-Developing and implementing effective multi-model remote learning

– The procurement and distribution of learning devices for NSFAS students at universities and TVET colleges

– Students need to register their correct cellphone numbers with their institutions so that they can benefit from these measures

– All campuses will undergo deep cleaning and bio-safety protocols to prepare for students eventual return. They will continue to be cleaned once students return

– Staff and students will also be provided with necessary mental health assistance

Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, added that schoold will be provided with protective equipment, and awareness campaigns will be made available to parents. She further commented on all alternative channels that carry curriculum content and information like radio broadcasts, as well as resources online. “We acknowledge that these methods are not perfect. Unfortunately not all learners are reached. The best way to learn is in the classroom,” she said.

The May/June matric exams have been postponed and a new timetable will be made as soon as possible.

Regarding school fees, Motshekga said the Department takes note of concerns. “Fees are payable because these funds are used to pay salaries. If parents are not able to pay school fees, please make arrangements with the school.”

Another key concern is infrastructure. Guidelines around public transport for learners will be published. The Department will also make provision for water and proper sanitation at schools and schools will not be allowed to reopen without meeting the necessary hygiene demands. Learners and teachers will also be screened daily.

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