The department of basic education has made a U-turn on the phased in return of more grades to school next week.
Only pupils in grades R, 6 and 11 will return to school on Monday.
The department made the announcement on Thursday afternoon, following a meeting of the Council of Education Ministers – a structure made up of provincial education MECs and heads of provincial education departments, with Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and her deputy Makgabo Reginah Mhaule.
Motshekga is scheduled to brief the media at the weekend to elaborate on the revised plans of phasing in the remaining grades to allow schools to reach normality by next month.
The council’s meeting considered five reports focusing on key areas in the basic education sector during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.
. Implementation of the annual teaching plans in the context of the proposed timetabling models and curriculum fundamentals to focus on each grade for the available time in the academic year;
. Registration and support to pupils whose parents have elected to keep them at home while they continue with schooling but are not registered for home education;
. Registration and support to pupils with comorbidities, a turnaround time for dealing with comorbidities, examinations and assessment in a Covid-19 environment as well as the monitoring and evaluation report conducted by the National Education Collaboration Trust-led consortium.
According to the department, these reports provided a broad review of all the developments relating to the phased approach to the return of pupils to school.
It said the council received reports since the first reopening phase last month and assessed the level or readiness of each provincial education department to receive more pupils as envisaged from Monday.
After careful consideration of all the reports, the department said the council decided to let only the three grades return to school.
Other grades will be phased in during this month in a differentiated approach within the stipulated time frames, according to the gazette published by Motshekga June 29.
“We will adjust the reopening phases based on the risk-adjusted strategy which is a considered attempt to balance our approach to schools reopening taking into account all factors that affect the work we do. We are guided in this by an observation of the rising numbers of community transmissions throughout the country. We recognise that schools are based in communities and pupils live in the same affected communities and therefore a careful balancing act must be maintained,” Motshekga said.