President Cyril Ramaphosa says after consultations with different stakeholders, the government has decided to close public schools for four weeks.

President Ramaphosa says while it was difficult to find consensus on which approach is best, they agreed that the health of learners and teachers must remain a priority.

The President says the move is also in line with the WHO guidelines, which warned countries not to reopen schools while local transmissions of the coronavirus are on the rise.

“Cabinet has decided today that all public schools should take a break for the next four weeks, now this has also been an experience in a number of other countries where schools have opened and also had to close, due to the circumstances that each country has had to confront. This means that schools will be closed from the 27th of July and will reopen on the 24th of August.”

However, Ramaphosa says grade 12 learners and teachers will only take a week break. While grade 7s will be on recess for two weeks.

He says the current academic year will be extended to the end of the year and the Basic Education Minister will give a way forward on this.

The National School Feeding Scheme will continue during the recess.

The President says learners or their parents can collect meals from the schools.

Cases continue to surge

Addressing the nation virtually, the President also noted the increasing number of coronavirus infections in the country. ” As of this evening, the total number of coronavirus cases now stands at 408 052.”

South Africa now has the fifth-highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the whole world. “And currently accounts for half of all the cases on our beloved continent Africa.”

He however pointed out that the country continues to have one of the lowest fatality rates in the world.

“South Africa is experiencing far fewer COVID-19 deaths than many countries with similar or even lower numbers of infections. Since the outbreak of the disease in South Africa more than 6 000 people have succumbed to the virus and we continue to mourn their departure from our country through death.”

Below is the President’s address in text and video: