South Africa plans to open schools next week despite some parents calling for schools to remain closed because of serious concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.
Hubert Mathanzima Mweli, the Director-General of the Department of Basic Education (DBE), told parliament on Wednesday that the department plans to reopen schools from 4 May.
The outbreak of COVID-19 led to the early closure of schools during the first term. To curb the spread of COVID-19, the country imposed a 21-day lockdown that has since been extended by two weeks to the end of April.
In a virtual presentation to parliament, Mathanzima Mweli revealed government plans for reopening of schools.
- Teachers are set to arrive on 4 May
- Grade 12 and Grade 7 on 6 May
- Grade 6 and Grade 11 on 20 May
- Grade 5 and Grade 10 on 3 June
- Grade 4 and Grade 9 on 17 June
- Grade 3 and Grade 8 on 1 July
- Grade 1 and Grade 2 on 8 July
- Grade R on 15 July
To curb the spread of COVID-19 at schools, the department proposed the following rules and guidelines:
- Physical distances in classrooms
- No hugging and handshaking
- Masks to be worn by learners and teachers at all times
- No mass public events – including sports matches, choral practices, and festivals
- Classrooms to be sanitised before each school day
- Hands to be sanitised upon entering the classroom.
- Limiting the movement of learners between classes
- No clustering of desks in classrooms.
- Transport will be sanitised before each trip
The new school calendar for learners is proposed as follows:
- Term 2 – 6 May to 26 July
- Term 3 – 3 August to 23 September
- Term 4 – 28 September to 9 December
As South African parents wait to hear what will become of this school year from Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga tomorrow, a major concern for most of them will be the fear of their children contracting the disease once back at school.
An earlier study published in The Journal of Pediatrics last month, which examined 2 000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in children reported to the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, showed that as with other reports, the majority (90%) of cases were mild or moderate.
Children mostly experienced symptoms such as fever, coughing, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing and sometimes pneumonia.
Twitter reacted to the virtual presentation:
Basic education will be the epicentre if not managed properly. The overcrowding in rural and township schools is worrisome!
— Z.K Sibeko (@sibekoziyanda) April 29, 2020
Basic education minister should let only Grade 11s and 12s to resume with school.
— R O M E O 💀🔥 (@lesleymafalo_) April 29, 2020
Basic Education minister should reopen schools once the country goes back to level 1 otherwise cancel third term cos our bundle of joy will exchange musks and pens pic.twitter.com/1mfhsU5oW5
— Phelelani L (@l_phelelani) April 29, 2020
Basic Education, please cancel this academic year. There’s nothing to lose but lives to save.
1. Teenagers are naive some don’t even take this seriously.
2. Primary school learners can’t even keep their shoes on for more than 4hours, how are they gonna keep masks on.#Thread
— Lele Matseke (@Lele_Matseke) April 29, 2020
That basic education presentation is like plotting a suicide for learners am traumatized🥺 pic.twitter.com/faQcmmw5wl
— Maduvha (@Maduvha70109683) April 29, 2020