Primary schools will reopen full-time in July, but what if there is a third wave?
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga has allayed fears around the full-time return of primary school pupils in grades R to 7 from July 26, saying the department would be guided by the national coronavirus command council and data from the health department.
Motshekga was responding to questions on Tuesday after a presentation from the basic education department on the status of school preparedness for a possible third wave of Covid-19 infections.
“We have a team working with the health department and monitoring infections on a daily basis and that is what guides us ... in the decision to say it would be ideal to send younger children back to school,” said the minister.
On Friday the minister gazetted amended lockdown regulations which allow for primary school children and children with special needs to return to school on a full-time basis from July.
Currently, younger pupils go to school on a rotational basis.
Portfolio committee backs department
The portfolio committee said on Wednesday it supports the return to school on a full-time basis provided there are safety measures in place.
Committee chairperson Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba said the committee is concerned about the loss of learning time in 2020 and the impact this had on pupils.
“We know and understand this is not a South African phenomenon but a worldwide challenge. However, we remain concerned,” she said.
Plan was to open sooner
Deputy minister Reginah Mhaule told the committee on Tuesday the basic education department wanted to reopen full-time in the second quarter but other stakeholders suggested the department should use the time to prepare and reopen in the third quarter instead.