The Department of Basic Education on Saturday released a revised school calendar, which shows that learners have 156 days for the year.

In a statement, the department says the decision was approved by all stakeholders and Council of Education Ministers with consideration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the calendar, schools will resume on 24 August. There will be a one-week break from 26-30 October that will mark the end of the third term. The fourth term begins on 2 November, with Grades 1-11 closing on 15 December for the rest of the year.

Grade 12 examinations will be done by 15 December and results will be released on 23 February 2021.

The new calendar will be gazetted and published next week with the Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga also expected to issue directions for the sector.

The 2021 school year will begin on January 25 for teachers. Learners will follow suit a few days later.

Last month, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the closure of public schools for four weeks following mounting pressure from teachers’ unions and the public amid rising COVID-19 infections. Grade 12 learners received a one-week break.

Criticism from experts

Earlier this week, the Paediatrician Management Group and the South African Paediatric Association (SAPA) condemned the recent closure of public schools. The bodies said that Cabinet’s decision was not based on scientific evidence and not in the best interests of children.

Chairperson of the COVID-19 Ministerial Advisory Committee Professor Salim Abdool Karim stated that teachers do not have an increased risk of being infected with COVID-19 during school than the general population.

“There’s no strong case to be made in that teachers are at higher risk. If you think that teachers are at higher risk,  then you shouldn’t open any business because everybody is at that same kind of risk,” says Prof. Karim.

The Foonda Initiative provides extra support to matrics through virtual tutoring: