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New ‘back to school’ plans: Secondary students to face staggered classes

All primary schools will reopen as normal next month, but the return of secondary learners will be staggered. Here the key dates within the DBE’s proposals.

schools fake teacher mpumalanga

Photo: Unsplash

South African schools are facing a split in the way each level of education returns to the classroom. Proposals drafted by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) reveal that primary schools CAN return as normal in February, but their secondary counterparts will only be allowed to open if they implement a ‘staggered timetable’.

Dates and times for the new ‘back to school’ plans

The plans, which are not yet official DBE policy, would force those in secondary schools to adhere to a differentiated model that limits the amount of children who are allowed in the facility at one time. There are some key dates to note, here:

  • Monday 25 January: School management teams must report for duty.
  • Wednesday 27 January: All public schools will open for feeding of qualifying learners in terms of the National School Nutrition Programme.
  • Monday 1 February: All teachers instructed to return to work, giving them two weeks to prepare for student intake.
  • Monday 15 February: Primary schools fully reopen, secondary schools open with staggered timetables.

Sadtu reject DBE proposals

However, not everyone is best pleased with these plans. The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) has rejected calls for management staff to return to work next week. According to their General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke, the DBE is ‘spitting on the government’s effort to save lives’ by forcing workers back so early:

“SADTU does not agree with the call for educators and SMTs to report for duty from the 25th of January. The unions were not consulted.  We wonder what informed this decision because teachers are as vulnerable to the pandemic as the learners. The DBE spits on this well-intended goal to save lives, because it is obsessed with mechanical management.”

“This shows the DBE has no regards for the lives of the workers who are the ones who are infected and overwhelming the hospitals. They the learners are taught by robots and this obsession that educators are hired to work and they should therefore go to work when the officials have been working from home for the whole of last year is unacceptable.”

Sadtu Statement