The Department of Basic Education (DBE) is under the spotlight on safety in schools as more grades prepare to go back to class on 6 July.
Schools have been closed since lockdown was set in motion in March to curb the spread of the Coronavirus. However, the DBE has implemented the gradual reopening of schools, sending Grades 7 and 12 back to school on 8 June.
The DBE issued a set of directions, signed by Minister Angie Motshekga, to provide clarity and guidance on a variety of matters affecting the education sector.
The guidelines confirmed 6 July 2020 as the official date of reopening schools for the following grades:
- Pre-Grade R, Grade R, Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3, Grade 6, Grade 10 and Grade 11 learners
- Schools of skills’ years 2 and 3 will also resume classes. Schools for learners with severe intellectual disabilities (SID) will also resume.
- Schools for learners with severe and profound intellectual disabilities (LSPID), year 1 to 3, and autistic learners junior group (below 13 years) and final year (18 years and above) will also resume.
According to the department, the institutes of learning may be permitted to deviate from the phased return to school in respect of specific grades or dates, provided that they comply with the minimum health, safety and social distancing measures and requirements on COVID-19.
The department said they would continue to monitor and regulate the return of learners to school, with a sharp focus on safety for all.
“We will continue to work hard in schools to make sure that we protect our learners, teachers and employees within schools. It is important to work together to ensure that we beat the virus,” Motshekga said.
The Minister said the department is doing everything in its power to ensure all schools are COVID-19 compliant before they receive learners.
“What is also important is to ensure that even during schools hours and beyond, we stick to the basic requirements of wearing a mask, sanitising, washing hands and physical distancing,” the Minister stressed.
She urged members of the community to refrain from visiting schools, as this also increases the risk for more infections.
The department is providing support for 204 learners and hostel assistants, who have contracted Coronavirus at Makaula Senior Secondary School in KwaBhaca, Eastern Cape.