Parents and guardians are preparing themselves for the possibility that they might, once again, have to provide homeschooling for their children.
The Basic Education Department has postponed the reopening of schools by a further two weeks as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to escalate putting a strain on health care facilities.
Many teachers have also succumbed to the virus.
Some independent schools have alerted parents that they would need to come to school to fetch study packs and teach their children at home.

One Johannesburg mother, who prefers anonymity because she does not want her daughter identified, is stressed that she and her husband will now have to set aside time between their equally demanding daily work activities to teach their little one who was scheduled to start school this year.

She has not mustered up enough courage to tell her daughter, who is looking forward to starting school, that she will not be sitting behind the desk on Monday.

“As a parent, I am so stressed and so frustrated because this is the first year of my little daughter to go to school and she is so excited that she is going to school next week. Now, there are changes she is no longer going there. And I can’t even tell her. She was so excited to go to school, and meeting new friends and do new things.”

Department of Basic Education answers questions on delayed reopening of schools: 

What is more stressful for her is that she and her husband will now have to teach their daughter from home. The independent school, where she has enrolled her daughter, has sent her a text message informing her that she needs to come and collect study packs that she will use to teach her child whilst at home.

“And the thing of teaching my child at home is going to be difficult because me and my husband are working every day. So, who is going to teach her whilst we are working? So, it means she will have to wait for us to come back from work and teach her. And it is stress for us because we do not know what is happening – the syllabus, it’s frustrating.”

Chairperson of the Association for Homeschooling, Shaun Green, says one of the biggest causes of homeschooling failure is burnout. Green says homeschooling is not the same as traditional schooling and there are many things about schooling that are not necessarily well suited to education at home.

“Families that find themselves involved in educating their own children in their home should ask themselves these questions with regards to their actions; do we really need to do this, and number two, are we getting the most out of this? If they ask themselves these questions carefully, they can find that the home can be a very efficient learning environment that is also flexible and customised to the learner.”

The National Alliance of Independent Schools Association (Naisa) has welcomed the delayed reopening of schools. They say there is a need to save lives given the escalating number of new COVID-19 cases.

Naisa Chairperson, Mandla Mthembu, says the online program can cover a lot of the curriculum.

“We want to encourage all our schools to explore the online programmes which they have been using since last year when the lockdown began. We think that schools can be able to make headway and cover a lot of the curriculum using online programmes. And those schools which do not have online programmes we want to encourage them to make material available to parent and learners whilst they are at home.”

The Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (Isasa) says the two-week delay is an inconvenience. However, it is not as disruptive as was experienced last year.

Isasa’s Executive Director, Lebogang Montjane says they are happy to apply the two-week delay as requested by the government.

“Isasa and its member schools are happy to apply the two-week delay as requested by government. And confirms that, in the case of independent schools, which share the public school calendar, we have advised them to open for in-person instruction on the 15th of February 2021.”

Teachers’ union (Sadtu) has called on the department to show leadership regarding independent schools that have already opened or are set to open on Monday, by closing them down if they are not embarking on remote learning.

Homeschooling and its challenges: