Some Independent Schools have decided to go ahead with contact classes. This is despite the announcement by the Department of Basic Education that schools should delay reopening by two weeks. While Curro Holdings and other schools like Helpmekaar College have reversed their decision following a discussion with Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi, other schools are forging ahead.

Cosas Secretary-General, Teboho Magafane, had warned Curro schools about their intention to close them down. This was before the school announced that they would not go ahead with contact education.

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi says he was on the phone with the Curro Holdings CEO for 30 minutes to try and convince him that he should close his schools.

“They agreed that they have to reconsider their decision. They are going to issue a statement later this afternoon. They are going to make a decision that will ensure that they retract the face to face contact. The only area where it’s a grey area – we are trying to find how to manage it – is the ECD or what is commonly known as creches, that’s an area where we are discussing with Curro on how to manage it.”

Reopening of schools | Cosas plans to shut down schools that have decided to reopen

The National Alliance of Independent Schools Associations’ Mandla Mthembu says some schools are going ahead with contact classes because the directive has not been gazetted.

“Of course, we understand that this is their right because the Department of Basic Education has not gazetted this announcement by the deputy minister. You remember in the press briefing, the advisor to the minister spelled this out clearly that the determination made was that both Naisa and Isasa will persuade schools to follow reopening protocols which are opening on 15 February.”

Lesufi says they have approached the Minister of Basic Education to gazette the new regulations so that they can have a legal avenue to pursue against transgressing schools.

Lesufi has advised schools to have online classes in the meantime.

Not all schools abiding by the delayed opening directive:

On the other hand, the Department of Social Development has confirmed that Early Childhood Development Centres can reopen. While school-based Grade R classes are closed, ECD centres under the Department of Social Development can offer contact classes.

Department Spokesperson Lumka Oliphant says, “We can confirm that Early Childhood Development Centres registered with the Department of Social Development remain open subject to them following the COVID-19 protocols as prescribed by government.”

Lesufi says while they can hold schools accountable for not acting in line with the Education Department’s announcement, they would prefer to do this once the directive is gazetted.

We are monitoring institutions behaving recklessly: Lesufi