Winter school for grades 11 and 12 plus supplementary exams to continue, says Motshekga
While contact classes for school pupils will be suspended from Wednesday, winter classes for grade 11 and 12 pupils are to go ahead.
This was the word from basic education minister Angie Motshekga on Monday as she visited Seemahale Secondary School in Botshabelo, in the Free State, where she was conducting an oversight visit amid the vaccination of teachers.
“The usual winter vacation learner support programme for grades 11 and 12, organised by provinces, districts and schools, should continue under very strict conditions, in compliance with the Covid-19 health and safety protocols,” Motshekga said.
Some of these winter classes are usually held as residential camps. Motshekga said the camps could turn into a super-spreader event and therefore called for these to continue as day classes.
While the basic education department had been pulling out all the stops to keep schools open, including introducing a massive vaccination rollout programme for all teachers and school support staff, President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday announced the early closure of schools due to the spiking numbers of Covid-19 infections.
Ramaphosa's announcement comes as some pupils are in the middle of writing their grade 12 supplementary exams. Motshekga said they too could continue.
“Given that learners writing the May/June 2021 examinations are very few, usually less than 50, these examinations and marking thereof should also continue under strict adherence to Covid-19 health and safety protocols,” she said.
The government had taken into consideration the children who relied on school feeding schemes who would be affected by the sudden closure of schools. These children, Motshekga said, would be catered for until next week, which is when schools had initially been set to close.
While schools are set to be locked up from Wednesday, plans to get all teachers and schooling staff vaccinated continue. The teacher vaccination rollout has been ongoing since last week in some provinces.
Teachers were expected to continue reporting to school until Friday, to ensure that all were vaccinated by the deadline of July 8.
Parents with children in boarding schools and those living in special needs schools had until Friday to fetch their children.
While the schooling calendar states that schools will reopen on July 26, Motshekga said this had been moved up to the 19th to make up for the week lost to the early closure.
Meanwhile, Motshekga expressed pride in how the teacher vaccinations were going.
More than 200,000 teachers and schools' support staff had been vaccinated in the first three days of the vaccination rollout programme. At 60,000, most of these vaccinations happened in KwaZulu-Natal.
The department plans to vaccinate about 583,000 people linked to the education sector.