It has been confirmed – pupils are set to officially resume learning from February 15.
School management teams, made up of senior teachers and principals, will begin work on January 25. Other teachers will report for duty on February 1.
This was announced by Deputy Basic Education Minister Reginah Mhaule during a media briefing at the Government Communication and Information System offices in Pretoria on Friday morning.
On Thursday, City Press reported that stakeholders were aware of the department of basic education’s proposal to the national coronavirus command council to delay the reopening of schools to the middle of next month.
The original pre-Covid-19 school calendar had scheduled the reopening of for this past Wednesday.
Due to the pandemic, Mhaule said they were forced to revise the school calendar for last year, which automatically affected the current year’s school calendar.
The dates were moved from January 13 to January 25 for teachers and to January 27 for pupils.
Mhaule said Covid-19 had turned lives upside down and decision-making for a sector as large as basic education had become difficult.
Following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on January 11, Mhaule said that between Tuesday and Wednesday, the department had consulted with the Council of Education Ministers, heads of provincial education departments, national school governing body associations, teachers’ unions, pupil formations, principals’ associations, representatives of independent schools and pupils with special needs.
“All stakeholders were united in supporting a delay in the opening of schools. Given the pressure experienced by the health system in the past few weeks, occasioned by increased Covid-19 infections which have led to the second wave, the Council of Education Ministers – in conjunction with the national coronavirus command council and Cabinet – has made the decision to delay the reopening of both public and private schools by two weeks.
“Private schools had already reopened and will need to shut down again and postpone their reopening to a later date. This is done to provide relief to the health system, which is already struggling to cope with current demands. The new dates for the reopening of private schools will vary, depending on the calendar they follow,” said Mhaule.
She said school management teams would first prepare for the return of teachers, and the teachers would then prepare for the return of pupils.
Mhaule said schools would use the time to finalise outstanding matters regarding admissions, especially for unplaced pupils.
“The Council of Education Ministers made this difficult decision after considering all factors, backed up by research and statistics, regarding the current state of the health system. The priority remains saving lives.
“The department will work closely with all nine provincial education departments to establish the true extent of the impact of the virus resulting from the unfortunate demise of teachers, workers and leaders in the sector, especially during the December/January holidays,” added Mhaule.