There has been much debate as to whether South Africa’s schools should be allowed to continue the phased reopening approach, or close completely amid the peak of COVID-19. The matter has become a source of contention between the Department of Education and other stakeholders in the education sector, including teachers and parents.
On Tuesday, many schools relayed messages to parents that schools will be closing for a three week period to wait out the peak of the virus. They said they will convey government regulations as soon as they are made aware.
Since schools first began the gradual re-phasing process, teachers and parents protested against the move despite government making assurances that there are health and safety protocols in place to ensure the safety of pupils and educators.
Now, the matter has come to a head, as the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) is expected to make the recommendation that schools close for three weeks, in a scheduled presentation to Cabinet on Thursday, July 23.
A number of teachers union sources, who attended a meeting chaired by the Deputy Minister of Education Reginah Mhaule on Wednesday evening [July 22], confirmed to TimesLIVE that this news is expected to be announced on Thursday.
If the recommendation is tabled before Cabinet, either Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga or President Cyril Ramaphosa will announce the decision to the public.
On Saturday, July 18 five unions reportedly handed a list of proposals over to Motshekga – which included that schools be immediately closed and only reopened at the end of August. According to the unions, matrics are recommended to return to school on August 17.
TimesLIVE’s sources also said the Inter-Ministerial Committee, which is is led by Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, recommended that schools close for the next two weeks. However, the NCCC leaned towards a three-week option during Wednesday evening’s meeting.