Schools not allowed

Fumigation at Rhodesfield Technical High School in Kempton Park in preparation of the Opening of schools under Level 3 Lockdown. Only grade 7 and Grade 12s will be allowed back in class. [Photo: GCIS]

Here’s why some schools will not be allowed to open on 8 June

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said that schools would not be allowed to reopen if they could not demonstrate their readiness to do so.

Schools not allowed

Fumigation at Rhodesfield Technical High School in Kempton Park in preparation of the Opening of schools under Level 3 Lockdown. Only grade 7 and Grade 12s will be allowed back in class. [Photo: GCIS]

The Department of Basic Education through Minister Angie Motshekga revealed that 95% of schools in the country would reopen for Grade 7s and Grade 12s on Monday 8 June.

The minister has previously stated that all provinces must move at the same pace, but one of the chief obstacles to this are the number of schools that fall inside hotspots. 

Motshekga said that schools that are not COVID-19 compliant will not be allowed to open. Alternative measures have been put in place to ensure that no child is left behind according to the minister, but it is unclear if all those measures have been finalised.

The Gauteng and Western Cape departments of education believe they are very close to being ready to reopen schools, despite the vast majority of COVID-19 cases being recorded in the two provinces.

There are provinces where infection rates are low, but there are major issues surrounding readiness, such as the North West and Limpopo.

KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape have struggled with readiness on top of being home to multiple COVID-19 hotspots.


Motshekga told the press that 99% of schools in the Western Cape would open on Monday 8 June. The minister revealed that isolated schools that had recorded COVID-19 cases, would not open.

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said that, barring a handful of challenges that were beyond their control, the majority of the schools in the province would reopen for learning next week.

In KwaZulu-Natal the challenges seemingly have more to with the failure to deliver personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff and the proper sterilisation of schools. The eThekwini municipality has been tagged as a hotspot alongside the iLembe district just north of Durban.

The Eastern Cape education department have also struggled with the delivery of PPE, but MEC Fundile Gade has expressed confidence that most schools will open — even in the hotspots of the province.

Provinces experiencing issues with the readiness of schools

DBE director-general Mathanzima Hubert Mweli said: “Out of 23 675, 23 100 schools were declared ready as facilities to receive learners on Monday.”

In effect, this means that 575 schools will not be allowed to receive learners on Monday.

The department have outlined the chief areas of concern and challenges they face in reopening schools.

Masks and medical supplies

The delivery of masks and medical supplies, as well as the availability of water to ensure hygiene and sanitation standards are maintained, have challenged the provincial governments in the North West, Limpopo, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

In Kwazulu-Natal, poor communication has been blamed for equipment being lost and stolen.


In the Eastern Cape water tanks were set to be delivered over the weekend ahead of the planned restart on Monday, but it is unclear how many of the 89 tanks scheduled to be delivered, arrived at their intended destination.

Over and above the COVID-19 crisis, the Eastern Cape is experiencing a drought that has made the provision of water an uphill battle.

Another area of concern relates to communities that exist surrounding provincial or national borders. Government has been reluctant to allow daily crossing of provincial lines and have also said that learners from neighbouring countries will only be allowed to attend school if they have remained in South Africa.

In KwaZulu-Natal, water tanks have been provided, but there are significant issues with the installation.

Pit toilets

The ongoing use of pit toilets at schools serving the most impoverished communities, is a scourge government has sought to eradicate. However, construction of ablution facilities has been stalled by the lockdown.

Government said that some of its SAFE contractors were only able to return to construction on 1 June.

In Limpopo, sanitation represents the biggest obstacle to the reopening of schools driven by the scarcity of water in the region.

Screening and protocols

There are also individual schools expressing concern about their ability to screen learners and maintain the protocols put in place by the DBE and the health department.

Some schools are yet to train the support staff that will be needed to ensure that children can safely return to school.


The minister reported on Sunday that a rash of vandalism had effected the readiness of schools with a total of 1 662 schools having been vandalised.

Vandalism has been particularly rife in the North West representing the province’s biggest challenge in terms of readiness. Gauteng has also been hard-hit by vandalism.


The DBE say they have been engaging with the department of transport to ensure adequate and safe scholar transport is provided across the country.

Protest action

Some protests in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape have prevented the delivery of essential equipment and the readying of facilities.


Some schools have not completed orientation for returning learners intended to be carried out during the course of the last week. This is the chief concern in the Northern Cape which is otherwise quite well prepared for the reopening of schools.