- Parents will be allowed to keep children out of school despite them contravening the law.
- Minister Angie Motshekga said parents wishing to homeschool their children must comply with the department's requirements and apply on time.
- Schools with smaller class numbers have been allowed to open for all grades as long as they comply with regulations.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has given leeway to parents sceptical about sending their children back to school amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking during a briefing outside Peter Zongwane Primary School in Tembisa, Gauteng, the minister said the department had agreed not to deregister children who have been away from school for 10 days, as stipulated in the law.
"We understand the anxiety of parents and we don't react the same in a time of crisis. It is illegal to keep any child under 15 years away from school. We understand that we are operating in a difficult situation.
"Some parents are really anxious because their children have underlying conditions. Some are playing watch and see. We said we will be patient this time. According to the law if after 10 days a child doesn't come, we assume they are at another place and we deregister them," Motshekga said.
She added parents must notify the school if their children would not be returning to class.
"Parents that are comfortable in bringing their children to school, they are still able to bring their children. But those who don't, must notify us on time. We have advised that they must homeschool their children," Motshekga said.
She said schools with smaller class numbers are allowed to operate as long as they comply with the regulations.
"It won't make sense to open for one grade if it is a small school. If you have less than 100 pupils multi-grading, you are allowed to open. The reasons we can't allow all pupils into school are space and phasing.
"If schools can accommodate all pupils, we are much happier. We are now preparing for the next phase, to get as many children back to school. We have also allowed for special schools to open all grades if they can and if they have enough protective clothing," Motshekga said.
"We have also allowed private schools [to open for all grades] if they can demonstrate that they have enough space, and phase quicker than us. The main thing is spacing and getting systems ready. Public schools are phasing slower because we are a bigger system," Motshekga said.
Pupils around the country returned to school on Monday after schools were closed on 18 March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.