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.

As the country prepares for the reopening of schools, the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government has assured parents and stakeholders that all necessary precautions will be taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

This follows an announcement by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Tuesday that schools will reopen, starting with the return of the teachers on 25 May 2020 and the opening of schools on 1 June 2020 with Grade 7 and Grade 12 learners returning to the classroom.

The reopening of schools follows the National Coronavirus Command Council and Cabinet’s approval of the Basic Education Department’s plan to return to the classroom in a staggered approach.

In a statement issued following a Provincial Executive Council meeting held this week, the council welcomed the detailed plan for the reopening of the schools as presented by Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu.

The KwaZulu-Natal Executive Council invited all citizens and stakeholders to work together as the country prepares for the reopening of schools.

“The Provincial Executive Council understands the anxiety and concerns from some sections of society as we navigate these unchartered territories defined by COVID-19. The Executive Council also believes that the future of our country which is children and young people in general must not be allowed to be mortgaged by COVID-19 which at this stage appears to become a permanent feature of our lives.

“The Provincial Government assures all parents and stakeholders that all necessary precautions will be taken to prevent infections and that all non-pharmaceutical requirements for preventing the spread of the pandemic such as the cleaning and decontamination of schools, provision of PPE’s (Personal Protective Equipment) and that  measures for social distancing will be adhered to,” the Executive Council said.

Safety first

Speaking at the province’s weekly Coronavirus Command Council briefing on Thursday, Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has also assured parents that the schools are safe to resume with teaching and learning.

Lesufi said that the province is prioritising safety first for all its learners and educators. He assured parents that if schools do not have the required PPEs, they will not open.

“Social distancing will be adhered to, each class will have four brigades’ recruitment youth to assist and ensure the social distancing. The brigades will also assist in our scholar transport,” Lesufi said.

Lesufi added that each school will be linked to a clinic and before the teachers start to teach their subjects, each teacher will spend the first five minutes to explain COVID-19 to learners, and why it is important to always wear their masks.

He said that the department is also in the process of recruiting an additional 50 substitute educators to stand in for teachers over 60 and those with comorbidities. –


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