'If things are not working, we could stop and restart'- Angie Motshekga on schools reopening
Since announcing that schools would reopen on June 1, basic education minister Angie Motshekga has addressed several concerns and objections, suggesting this week that schools may once again close if Covid-19 cases worsen.
Schools will open next week for grades 7 and 12, as well as some “smaller schools” of not more than 125 pupils. Other grades will return in a phased approach.
On Monday, during an interview on the Big Debate, Motshekga said the country could move back to a higher level of lockdown should the situation worsen, adding that the same approach will be used for schools.
“If things are not working, we will have to go back to level 4 ... the same with education. If we open schools and find we experience difficulties, there is nothing stopping us from saying: 'no we are experiencing problems, we have to stop and restart',” she said.
“We are dealing with something we do not know. When we have to reverse, we will. There is nothing stopping us but we cannot be standing on the banks of the river forever.”
The department has put in place several protocols for safety at schools, including screening and testing.
Motshekga said the movement of children and teachers will be “controlled” to avoid human contact like the holding of hands.
Addressing concerns about overwhelming the health care system should cases peak, Motshekga said the system can cope.
TimesLIVE reported last week that Motshekga told concerned parents that there was “no need for drama” regarding children going back to school.
She said trained people have been put in place to ensure the safety of children at schools.
“There should not be any need for drama when it comes to school ... we should not be creating drama saying schools are more at risk of infection.”