Schools in Cape Town, Johannesburg, eThekwini May Remain Closed

Children
Schoolchildren sing 'Happy Birthday' to former South African President Nelson Mandela at Phefeni High School, opposite Mandela's former home in Soweto Township on Thursday in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The department of basic education wants schools in ‘hotspots’ such as Buffalo City, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, eThekwini, Mangaung and Nelson Mandela Bay to be regarded as being on lockdown level 5 and remain closed in June.

Schools were closed from March 18 due to a coronavirus outbreak.

More than 5,000 schools in COVID-19 hot spots across SA, including 929 private schools, will stay shut next month if the cabinet approves a new proposal by the basic education department, the Sunday Times reports.

Keeping these schools shut would affect 3.7-million pupils and 134,779 teachers.

The Sunday Times reports that according to government’s proposal schools in areas where COVID-19 infections are lower will be listed under lockdown level 3, and grades 7 and 12 will resume on June 1, with grades R to 7 and grade 11 expected to return on a staggered basis.

The proposal says that under level 3, the school timetable could be rearranged to “accommodate different grades attending school on alternate days as well as platooning/shift arrangements to comply with social distancing”.

Basil Manuel, executive director of the National Professional Teachers Organisation of SA, told the Sunday Times: “We accept that this may be a reality that more than 5,000 schools may remain closed because opening them would simply just not make sense. However, I would seriously caution against holding matric camps. Where would you put the children?”

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