What we know about SA’s school re-opening – and how other countries are allowing kids back

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga

South African Grades 7 and 12 will be returning to the classroom on 1 June, as the class of 2020 gets back to the drawing board after two months at home due to South Africa’s unprecedented lockdown to slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country.

Other grades will follow in due course – smaller schools where space is not an issue are also expected to open and a “different” approach will be used for schools who teach children with special needs and learning disabilities.

No decision has yet been taken on Early Childhood Development centres.

Here’s what we know so far:

  • All teachers and principals will be back at school on Monday, 25 May, to prepare for the return of learners and receive personal protective equipment.
  • Schools will be thoroughly cleaned before pupils return.
  • Grades 7 and 12 will return on 1 June and will have the entire school to themselves. What social distancing will look like has yet to be determined.
  • All pupils and staff will be screened daily for elevated temperatures and Covid-19 symptoms.
  • Grades R – 11 will be phased in – this will be announced in due course, and gazetted once approval has been given.
  • You can home-school your child – but must register for this.
  • Or you can apply for your child to repeat the grade.
  • The curriculum will be trimmed and sent to schools for planning purposes – when this will be is not clear. This, however, does not apply to matric students, as “exams have already been set”.
  • Matric students will write the full end-of-year exams, albeit not at the usual time of year. Final dates will be announced in due course.
  • Masks, sanitisers, aprons and sanitation facilities will be distributed to all schools.
  • Wearing masks at school will be compulsory – starting before children board school transport.
  • School transport must adhere to safety protocols – including sanitisation of pupils, physical distancing on school buses and the wearing of masks.
  • Sports and school trips will be prohibited.
  • Plans will be put in place to protect pupils and teachers with comorbidities, such as asthma, diabetes, cardiac and respiratory issues. Guidelines on this have yet to be issued.

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