DBE Director-General Proposes Phased Reopening of Schools


In a presentation on Wednesday, Department of Basic Education’s Director-General, Mathanzima Mweli, announced a proposal to reopen South African schools in a phased approached as of 6 May.

Mweli presented the proposal for a phased approach to the Portfolio Committee for Basic Education and the Select Committee for Education, Technology, Arts and Culture.

The plan makes provision for Grade 7 and Grade 12 pupils to go back to school on 6 May. Grade 11 and 6 pupils are scheduled to follow two weeks later and pupils in other grades will follow every two weeks until Grade R pupils return on 15 July.

However, feedback from social cluster ministers was that 18 May is more reasonable. The Director-General added that any proposed dates would be finalised by Motshekga during Thursday’s briefing. 

The proposed guidelines on social distancing at schools include:

  • Physical distancing in classrooms; no more than two learners sharing desks
  • No hugging or handshaking
  • Cloth face masks to be worn by all students and teachers at all times
  • No mass events; sports matches, choral practices or festivals permitted

Proposed amended school calendar for Grade 7 and 12:

Term 2:

  • Start for teachers: 4 May
  • Start for learners: 6 May
  • End of term: 26 July

Term 3:

  • Start: 3 August
  • End: 23 September

Term 4:

  • Start: 28 September
  • End for learners: 9 December
  • End for teachers: 11 December

Final plan expected to be announced on Thursday 30 April

Minister Angie Motshekga will be joined by the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Blade Nzimande at a press briefing on Thursday 30 April. This comes after an earlier conference, scheduled to take place on Monday, was cancelled at the last minute.

Both departments, who are under severe pressure to provide clarity regarding the disrupted curriculum and the associated contingency plans, noted that further consultation with the National Command Council (NCC) was necessary.