School reopeing

Image via Adobe Stock

School reopening: Readiness concerns mount ahead of proposed return

With KZN and Gauteng still reeling from high COVID-19 infections and recent riots, government remains committed to reopening schools.

School reopeing

Image via Adobe Stock

South African schools are set to return on Monday 26 July after being closed throughout adjusted level 4 lockdown, but with speculation mounting that the country is destined to endure an extension of the current regulations, parents and students aren’t sure whether schools will indeed reopen as scheduled. 

The impact of unrest in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Gauteng, coupled with COVID-19 infections continuing to climb in those provinces, mean that the reopening of classrooms remains in question. 

Government insist schools will reopoen on Monday 26 July  

Acting Minister in the Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said on 21 July that schools are still set to go forward with their scheduled reopening, but said that many schools in the aforementioned provinces were looted and vandalised during the riots earlier this month. 

“As announced by the President, the schools are scheduled to re-open on 26 July and the Department of Basic Education is  proceeding with plans for the reopening of schools,” she said. 

Government insist that schools will be required to follow strict COVDID-19 safety protocols when schools return. COVID-19 cases in both KZN and Gauteng have remained high, with the Western Cape also producing a high number of cases on Thursday

The Gauteng province accounts for the majority of new cases – 4 988 (34%), followed by the Western Cape with 3 263 new cases (22%) and KwaZulu-Natal with 1 613 new cases (11%) provinces. 

Schools vandalised during riots  

Ntshavheni said on Wednesday that the riots in KZN and Gauteng led to severe disruptions to education departments’ ability to ready themselves for the anticipated return date. 

“There were 143 schools which were vandalised and looted during the unrests. 139 of these schools are in KwaZulu-Natal and four are in Gauteng,” she said. 

“Equipment and food meant for the school nutrition programme was stolen, which means that these facilities are unable to provide the school nutrition programme to the vulnerable learners.”

Motshekga to hold briefing on Sunday  

Speaking on school readiness in Gauteng, spokesperson for the basic education department, Steve Mabona, said on Friday that they expect schools to reopen on Monday. 

He told eNCA that ahead of a briefing by Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Sunday, the department intends to carry on with its plans to welcome students back to the classroom on Monday as the country recovers from the third wave of infections.  

Health Minister Mmamaloko Kubayi-Ngubane said on Friday that SA is now over the worst of the pandemic’s third wave.

“All indications are that we have passed the peak of the third wave and the overall number of cases have started to decline,” said Kubayi-Ngubane.

Government also released the proposed calendar for 2022 this week, with classes set to begin again after the summer break on 12 January and ends on 17 March. However, for the coastal cluster, the first term begins on 19 January and ends on 25 March.