Delegates from the national and Gauteng Education Departments have visited Kabelo primary school in Katlehong east of Johannesburg on Monday morning to monitor the first day of the full-time return of all primary school learners.

The National Coronavirus Command Council decided to allow learners to go back to school following a consultation with experts and the mass vaccination of teachers.

The delegates say they are happy with the way things are going at the school so far and they hope this will help both learners and teachers catch up on time lost.

School Principal Jabulile Radebe says, “We are happy that our kids have come back in large numbers. We will be able to safeguard them and handle them. We have things in place that are ready.”

“Everyone before entering the gate they have their masks on. Even in classrooms, we do have spare masks to give to them because little ones sometimes lose them. We are ready and the teachers are ready because they started earlier preparing,” adds Radebe.

Meanwhile, most of the primary schools in the Northern Cape will not operate at full capacity on Monday as they cannot meet the required COVID-19 protocols.

The provincial Department Education has confirmed that only 79 out of 424 primary schools in the province can accommodate all learners at once.

The department says the rest of the schools still do not have sufficient infrastructure, adequate water supply and enough teachers to operate at full capacity.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, most schools have been working with a differentiated timetable but are now expected to return to the traditional daily school timetable model.

The department’s spokesperson Lehuma Ntuane says opening more schools to operate at full capacity would be costly.

Northern Cape Education Department spokesperson Lehuma Ntuane says, “The main challenge is the maintaining of the mandatory 1.5 metres social distancing requirement for learners. This will require additional classroom space as well as teaching staff which the department is unable to budget for. For now, we will continue with the differentiated timetable model which is in the best interest of both learners and educators.”-Additional reporting by Neria Hlakotsa

The video below is focusing on the reopening of schools: