Schools to open on June 1 — education minister Angie Motshekga

30 April 2020 - 17:56 By Matthew Savides and Zingisa Mvumvu
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga on Thursday explained the plans for the 2020 school year.
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga on Thursday explained the plans for the 2020 school year.
Image: GCIS

Schools will reopen on June 1 for grade 12 and 7 pupils.

This was announced by basic education minister Angie Motshekga on Thursday. She was speaking at a media briefing alongside higher education minister Blade Nzimande.

She stressed that these were “proposed dates”.

Matrics and grade 7s would be first, she said, and would “have the whole school to themselves”.

The details for other grades were not provided, and Motshekga said the final school year dates would be gazetted once approved.

Motshekga said that it had been proposed that the education sector begin to get back to work on May 4. However, she stressed this concerned only senior officials.

Motshekga said officials would return to work next week to prepare for the reopening of the schools, a process she said would take at least a month.

After the officials, it was proposed that teachers return on May 18 to prepare for the continuation of the academic year.

Furthermore, an amendment of the academic calendar year had been proposed and was being considered.

Motshekga said several measures to ensure that the education sector did not contribute to the spread of the virus would be put in place before learners could return. In this regard, the department would be working with the department of health and department of transport.

“We were proposing that the sector goes back on May 4, next week Monday. For us to be ready, we need to open the sector so that the first group of officials go in and prepare,” she said.

She stressed this was a “proposed calendar that we are consulting around”.

“If we are to save the year, the success will be in the classroom,” she said earlier.

She said that the safety of teachers and pupils was the priority.

“Our priority was ensuring that, as a sector, we contribute towards the lowering of infections. We also ensure the safety of learners and educators, but also balance that around protecting the academic year of 2020 as much as possible.

“In the past few weeks we have experienced major problems and there has been an increasing anxiety, understandably so, because we serve more than 13 million learners. Members of the community have been worried about when learners will be allowed back — if they are even to be allowed back,” she said.

Motshekga said reports on Wednesday that they were planning to reopen schools next week were a misunderstanding, as this was just a proposal being taken to all stakeholders before it was presented to cabinet and the coronavirus command council.

“On May 4, we are not saying kids must go back to school. Only officials will, to start preparing for opening on whatever day is agreed upon. For now, it will be senior officials so they can receive masks, water tanks, desks and sanitisers. Provinces will detail who must go back to school.

“We are proposing that on May 18 we start receiving teachers to come in and prepare,” she said.

When the pupils do return to school, said Motshekga, the necessary health precautions will be introduced to combat the contraction and spread of Covid-19.

When the pupils returned to school, she said, classrooms would be sanitised every day and screening of teachers and pupils would also be carried out daily.

Said Motshekga: “For now we are preparing for grade 7s and 12s. We need the whole month to prepare for return learners, and we are starting on May 4 to prepare. The main aim is to make sure as education sector we do not contribute at all to the spread of the coronavirus.”