President Cyril Ramaphosa announced late on Thursday that all public schools will take a break for four weeks.
“As South Africa approaches its peak of COVID-19 infections, we must take the cautious approach to prevent schools from becoming sites of transmission,” said Ramaphosa, adding that more than 6,000 people had died of COVID-19, and 408,052 infections had been confirmed.
Ramaphosa was speaking during an address to the nation on Thursday night.
“Taking into account the views of the various stakeholders and expert bodies, Cabinet has decided that all public schools should take a break for the next four weeks.”
This means that schools will be closed from 27 July and will re-open on 24 August.
Ramaphosa added that there are, however, some exceptions. Grade 12 learners and teachers will only take a one-week break, returning to school on 3 August. Grade 7 learners will take a two-week break, returning to school on 10 August.
“Specific arrangements will be made for different categories of special schools. As a result of the disruptions caused by the pandemic, the current academic year will be extended beyond the end of 2020.”
The Minister of Basic Education will provide details on the management of the remainder of the school year.
“We have taken a deliberately cautious approach to keep schools closed during a period when the country is expected to experience its greatest increase in infections,” he said.
Throughout this period, the National School Nutrition Programme will continue to operate so that all learners or their parents can collect food directly from schools, he explained.
“I am aware that this arrangement will disappoint many learners who want to be back at school and may cause inconvenience and difficulty for many families who need to make alternative childcare arrangements,” he said.
“We ask you to do this because we believe it is important to ensure that schools do not become sites of transmission at a time when infections are rising fast.”