Grades 7 and 12 learners will now only return to school next Monday the 8th of June after the Department of Basic Education conceded that all schools were not ready to open on June 1.

In a statement, the department says only school management teams, teachers and non-teaching staff will return on Monday to prepare for the arrival of learners.

A media briefing by the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga on schools’ readiness to resume classes that were scheduled for Sunday night has been postponed till Monday morning at 11am.

State of readiness

The department says the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) met on Saturday to assess the state of readiness for the reopening of schools where it received several reports indicating that a substantial number of schools were not ready to reopen on Monday.

The CEM says it is concerned that in some provinces Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to protect learners against the spread of the coronavirus had not been received, and some schools had not been made ready for the arrival of teachers and learners.

The National Association of School Governing Bodies (NASGB) was reporting back on its consultations with Basic Education Minister, Angie Motsekga over the return to school of Grade 7 and 12 learners.

NASGB Secretary, Matakanye Matakanye says, “The Minister understands and agrees with us that she wants also to see that schools comply with the health standards and therefore, this week it will be a week of mopping up meaning that now children will not come to school. The teachers will go to school and they must be orientated. They must be trained and the PPE’s must be provided and classes must be deep cleaned.”

The National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) has warned teachers and support staff not to return to school unless they have the assurance that the schools are complying with coronavirus regulations.

In this video below, SABC News looks at the readiness of some schools in Port Elizabeth:

Naptosa president, Basil Manuel says, “Some schools haven’t even had the first delivery of SMT’s and we can’t expect workers to go on to the premises when they are not protected. Whether they are support staff; whether they be the teachers; it can’t happen and this is where the basic problem lies and then tomorrow, we expect that if learners return they must have masks and we’ll guarantee you that most of the schools don’t have the quantity of masks required. So, what is it that we’re saying to parents? ‘Let’s take a chance with your kids.'”

The prospect of resuming lessons while dealing with safety issues is leading to high anxiety levels. Parents and learners alike are worried that some of the schools – especially those without proper resources and have no basic services such as water and sanitation- could be turned into breeding grounds for the virus.

Uncertainty over the reopening of schools: