All learners will NOT be returning to school on Monday

In a meeting with stakeholders on Thursday afternoon, Minister of the Department of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, noted that the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) had made amendments to the school return plan.

“After careful consideration of all the reports CEM took a decision that only Grade 6, Grade 11 and Grade R will return to school on Monday, 6 July 2020,” said Motshekga.

“The decision affects all provinces. The other grades will be phased in during the month of July.”

The CEM hopes to have all grades back in school by August.

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Commenters on social media were unhappy with the return of Grade Rs in particular:

Many questioned the logic behind the move.

Why the changes?

The council said it had received and considered five reports focusing on key areas in the basic education sector in a COVID-19 environment.

The reports presented were:

  1. Implementation of the Annual Teaching Plans (ATPs) in the context of the proposed timetabling models and curriculum fundamentals to focus on per grade for the available time in the academic year
  2. Registration and support to learners whose parents elected to keep at home and continue with schooling but not registered for Home Education
  3. Registration and support to learners with comorbidities
  4. Turnaround time for dealing with comorbidities
  5. Examinations and assessment in a COVID-19 environment as well as the Monitoring and Evaluation Report conducted by the NECT-led consortium.

“These reports provided a broad review of all the developments relating to the phased approach to the return of learners to school,” said a statement released by the Department of Education.

Worried teachers say they won’t be able to cope when more learners return

Risk-adjusted strategy to be implemented

“We will adjust the reopening phases based on the risk-adjusted strategy which is a considered attempt to balance our approach to school reopening, taking into account all factors that affect the work we do. We are guided in this by an observation of the rising numbers of community transmissions throughout the country. We recognise that schools are based in communities and learners live in the same affected communities and therefore a careful balancing act must be maintained,” said Minister Motshekga.

Further plans will be presented during a media briefing over the weekend.

“Why didn’t the department wait until August?” – Teacher unions

Teacher unions, however, were unhappy with the return of the three grades. Three unions told News24 that they were worried about the safety of teachers and pupils in schools, especially after reports that the country was faced with the imminent peak of the coronavirus.

“We will go out and check if PPEs (personal protective equipment) have been delivered to schools. We are concerned about a comeback in July because of the reports that Covid-19 will peak in July. Why didn’t the department wait until August?”

“Why didn’t the dept wait until August?” – Teacher unions slam return of more learners