In his weekly letter to the nation, President Cyril Ramaphosa is emphatic that the safety of children is not negotiable and is government’s foremost priority.
Writing as South Africa enters level three of lockdown on Monday, the President says parents, teachers, governing bodies and government are in agreement that no school should re-open until all the necessary precautions are in place.
President Ramaphosa says although parents understandably may feel anxious and fearful of their children returning to school, they must draw courage from the fact that every effort is being made to protect them.
He says government is continuing with the process of delivering personal protective equipment and ensuring the availability of water and sanitation services at schools.
Ramaphosa says if all protocols and precautions are observed by parents, educators, communities and learners, the country will effectively minimise the risk posed by the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga is expected to give reasons why schools could not be reopened on Monday, as it was announced.
Motshekga is briefing the media this morning in Sunrise Park near Rustenburg, North West.
In the video below, the basic education announces that its media briefing has been postponed
Grades 7 and 12 learners were set to reopen today, but the department says they will now open on the 8th of this month.
But teachers unions, that include National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) and the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), amongst others, opposed this decision.
They say schools in most provinces are not ready, because of shortage of basic needs such as water and sanitation in others, insufficient infrastructure, such as additional classrooms, as well as PPEs for both teachers and learners, in others schools.
Western Cape education MEC confirms schools will reopen today
Meanwhile, Western Cape MEC of Education, Debbie Schafer has confirmed that schools in the province will reopen on Monday to receive learners.
This is despite Sunday night’s announcement by the Department of Basic Education that schools will only open next Monday for Grade 7 and 12 learners.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga postponed a media briefing on the issue at the last minute on Sunday night.
INFOGRAPHIC: The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa has risen to 32 683 after 1 716 new cases were confirmed in the past 24 hours.