Back To School

By NTU New Reporter

It’s back to school on February 15 for South Africa’s primary and secondary public school students after a delay of two weeks. Learners were initially to return on January 27 but this was delayed due to the second wave of coronavirus. 

According to Department of Basic Education guidelines, primary schools will return at full capacity and high schools at 50% capacity. 

This means grades 1-7 will attend school daily and high school students from grade 8-11 will be one day on, one day off. Grade 12 will attend daily. 

Online and remote learning by some schools is due to start from 1 February until the official opening date and some private schools have already begun the academic year. 

However, with little communication from the Department of Basic Education to schools and the public there could be changes right up to February 15. 

As one East London high school principal said in a recent school newsletter, “We have not received any guidance from the Department regarding the return to school, other than what the Minister of Education communicated via the media and I therefore apologise in advance for last minute changes that will be communicated to you.”

Also not clear is when the school nutrition programme will be operating. The Department initially said it would begin at the end of January. The spokesperson for Eastern Cape premiere Oscar Mubayane, Mvusiwekhaya Sicwetsha, had not responded to NTU News request for a statement on education issues by the time of publication.

Many schools in the Eastern Cape are still reportedly without running water, toilets or functional classrooms.

In addition, PPE provided by the government might not be available in the Eastern Cape despite a reported u-turn recently to say that it will be. Last year when schools returned after lockdown Gonubie Primary School in East London, as one example, notified parents that the PPE provided was of poor quality. The school paid for their own PPE out of the school budget, including two good quality masks per child. 

A recent survey of 20,000 teachers in SA found that the majority were scared of returning to class because of the risk of Covid-19 infection. The survey by Zibuza.net, a professional learning community for teachers, showed that more than 65% of respondents had contracted Covid-19 and 93% shared a fear of contracting the virus. 

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