Schools June

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Legal bid to stop schools reopening in June fails – what happens now?

A challenge to stop children returning to school in June has fizzled out on Tuesday – but what does the court ruling now mean for our learners?

Schools June

Photo: Adobe Stock

The Department of Education (DoE) has emerged victorious in court on Tuesday, despite winning a case on a technicality. But, the ruling still counts all the same: Schools can reopen in June if the government are happy to do so – and there is little left to derail their progress.

Department of Education wins court battle

The Tebeila Institute of Leadership, Governance and Training were the applicants trying to halt the reopening of schools next month. But they were prevented from arguing their case due to a poor choice of location. The meritS of whether that can be justified will be argued, but the DoE will not be complaining:

“Judge Gerrit Muller dismissed the case this afternoon saying that Limpopo High Court had no jurisdiction over the matter. He says the competent court would have been the Gauteng Division of the Court in Pretoria because that is where the offices of the Minister and the Department are located, not Polokwane in Limpopo.”

“On the substance of the matter, the Department argued that the contemplated reopening of schools had been developed with provinces, other government departments, all stakeholders and civil society through a consultative process over many weeks. The announcement of the Minister proposed tentative dates only.”

When will South African children go back to school, and what happens next?

The judgement essentially gives Angie Motshekga and her ministry permission to press ahead. South Africa may well remain under the restrictive stage of Level 4 lockdown by the proposed ‘back to school’ date of 1 June. But whatever the regulations state, education officials will have several hoops to jump through first

  • A final date for schools to re-open will be informed by the readiness of each institution
  • It will only be set in stone when the National Command Centre has approved the school recovery plans.
  • Risk assessments must be conducted at all schools before they open again.
  • The Health Department must also sign off any school reopening plans before they become official.
  • Despite the case being won by a technicality, it seems the decision won’t be challenged – and the DoE can continue unobstructed.