The Department of Basic Education (DBE) says it is worried about the possible impact the second wave will have on the 2021 academic year.

The department was reacting to the death of 32 teachers in less than a week from one province.

Director General Hubert Mathanzima says they are worried that 2021 might present even more challenges.

He says they are working with all stakeholders to ensure that disruptions to education are minimised.

“When schools open in January, we are extremely worried about the impact this is going to have on getting every teacher for every learner when schools reopen for the 2021 academic year.”

South Africa’s 2020 academic calendar was revised at least twice to accommodate the changes that have been brought by the impact of the coronavirus.

It wrapped up on December 15, a first in the history of democratic South Africa, and is due to resume on January 25, 2021.

Announcing the news in October, Education Minister Angie Motshekga said with much of the school year obliterated by the COVID-19 pandemic, schools will have to carry over some of the curriculum work into 2021.

She also expressed concern at the impact on long-term learning, and the potential increase of inequality in learning outcomes.

This situation, she said, makes it more urgent than before to provide sufficient support to teachers.

“All teachers know that catching up lost learning, or learning recovery, is not an easy, quick activity but requires a lot of dedicated time.

“This will include a concerted effort by both parents and teachers and will need to extend into the 2021 academic year. To allow for this, we have revised the annual teaching plans to extend to next year,” said the Minister.