15 January 2021
PRETORIA – The Ministry of Basic Education has moved the re-opening of schools to the 15th of February after a spike in Covid-19 infections across the country. Speaking at a media briefing on Friday morning, Deputy Minister of Basic Education Dr Reginah Mhaule said it is normally at this time of the year when schools are reopened, but the original pre- COVID-19 calender had also been re-scheduled due to the pandemic.
The decision to move schools re-opening was done following consultations with various stakeholders which consisted the Council of Education Ministers (CEM), the National Coronavirus Command Council, all stakeholders were united in supporting a delay in the opening of schools.
“ Given the pressure experienced by the health system in the past few week, occasioned by increased COVID-19 infections which has led to the second wave, the Council of Education Ministers in conjunction with the National Coronavirus Command Council and Cabinet, has taken the decision to delay the re-opening of both public and private schools with two weeks.”
“ This includes private schools that have reopened to a later date. This is done to provide relief to the health system which is already struggling to cope with the current demands. The new dates for the reopening of private schools will vary depending on the calendar that they follow.” Mhaule said.
Mhaule added that School Management Teams ( SMTs) shall report for duty on Monday, 25 January 2021, while teachers shall follow on Monday 01 February 2021 and lastly, learners on Monday, February 2021.
“ The SMTs will go first to prepare for the return of teachers, and the teachers will prepare for the return of learners. Schools will use the time to finalise outstanding matters ,regarding admissions, especially the unplaced learners in certain cases.” Said Mhaule.
The Deputy Education Minister went on to say that the basic education sector, has also felt the impact of COVID-19 pandemic during the marking of the 2020 National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination scripts.
Mhaule emphasised that some markers have passed away, while others withdrew from marking, due to fear and anxiety, but also because for some of them, their own family members have tested positive. In the majority of cases, the educators indicated they had attended funerals or ceremonies attended by big groups of people, resulting in gatherings that were not monitored for compliance with health protocols.