Back-to-school non-negotiables: No more than 40 pupils in a class - DBE

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No classroom should have more than 40 pupils when schools reopen in phases.

This is one of the non- negotiables for schools, which was presented by the Department of Basic Education's director general Mathanzima Mweli to Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Basic Education and the Select Committee on Education, Technology, Arts and Culture on Wednesday morning.

The department presented its Covid-19 basic education sector plan amid much uncertainty and anxiety from parents on the future of schools since gates were closed on 18 March after President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster.

Other preconditions include that screenings and deep cleaning take place at schools and there must be additional teacher posts to accommodate overcrowding in classes. Additional substitute posts must also be brought in to replace staff who are ill.

The department said that pupils in quintile 1 to 4 schools would be provided with masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE), while the parents of those in quintile 5 schools would have the responsibility of purchasing it for their children.

READ: From masks to desk screens: How unions see physical distancing working once schools reopen

In his presentation, Mweli said that the department had also developed a basic and essential hygiene and sanitation package for schools, and different provinces were procuring items needed to ensure safety at schools.

These products included cleaning and disinfection materials, personal protective equipment, sanitisers, hand soap, gloves, cloth masks and thermometers.

The department will be conducting a phased-in resumption of schooling, with tentative dates being 4 May for teachers and 6 May for the first group of pupils, Grade 7 and 12.

At least 400 mobile classrooms have been procured to ensure there was no overcrowding, the department told the committees.

Mweli also said that upon schools reopening, screening for both teachers and pupils will be done and anyone who presented with a high temperature would be sent for isolation and testing.

Basic Education Deputy Minister Makgabo Reginah Mhaule said the presentation was subject to the approval of the National Command Council, where Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga was currently presenting the plan.

The department is also planning to trim and reorganise the curriculum for all grades, excluding Grade 12, and, in doing so, will retain fundamental skills and concepts for each grade.

Every lesson would also be expected to have at least five minutes of teaching awareness on the Covid-19 pandemic.

Motshekga, along with her higher education counterpart Blade Nzimande, were expected to hold a media briefing on Thursday after Monday's one was postponed. 

ALSO READ: Safety first calls grow as govt scrambles to save academic year

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