There has been a mixed reaction to government’s decision to reopen schools on 1 June. Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced that all Grade 7 and 12 learners will be allowed back in class next month.
She said they will follow all safety protocols before learners report to school. However, some political parties have cautiously welcomed the move while others outrightly rejected it as irresponsible.

After a thorough consultation with relevant stakeholders, including the National Coronavirus Command Council, the government has ordered that the 2020 academic year for Grade 7 and 12 learners should resume.

Political parties are divided on the move.

The governing African National Congress (ANC) fully supports Motshekga on her decision to reopen schools next month.

”We welcome the opening of schools for Grade 7’s and 12’s. It will be up to us as parents to make sure that kids are safe and adhere to the PPE’s and sanitising,” says party spokesperson, Pule Mabe.

The Democratic Alliance Shadow Minister on Higher Education, Science and Technology, Belinda Bazzoli welcomed the move but said that schools should adhere to safety protocols.

“We think it’s a good thing that matric students get to go on to university or college and we were very worried that they were being held back. I think it’s a good thing that primary school kids at Grade 7 will be able to go up to high school so that the system doesn’t get clocked up by students being held back by the coronavirus. Schools can safely reopen.”

The Congress of the People cautiously welcomed Minister Motshekga’s decision. ”For as long as there are precautionary measures, we don’t want to send our kids and teachers to a slaughter field. We are very much concerned that everything must be there before teachers and children can go into a school,” says party Spokesperson, Dennis Bloem.

The IFP, on the other hand, has outrightly rejected the decision. Its spokesperson on Basic Education Siphosethu Ngcobo says it won’t be possible for government to provide water and sanitation to all public schools countrywide while it failed to that in the last 26 years.

“Water and sanitation are going to be a problem. If you have failed in the past to deliver these services, how are you going to be successful now? No matter how much money you have, it’s not going to be possible. So, sorry it’s not going to happen, minister … problems only.”

Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa has also been engaged in virtual meetings with all leaders of political parties represented in Parliament to find ways of reducing the lockdown to Level 3, which will see the economy opening up and more and more people returning to work.

Teacher unions and NGOs have raised concerns over the state of readiness of schools:

The graphic below shows some of the measures that will be in place when schooling resumes: 

 

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Below is Minister Angie Motshekga’s media briefing: