KwaZulu-Natal education department says no to return of Grade R pupils on Monday

A worker sanitises a classroom.
A worker sanitises a classroom.
PHOTO: GCIS
  • KwaZulu-Natal will not accept Grade R pupils back at schools on Monday, the provincial education department said.
  • This despite a decision by the national education department that pupils in Grades R, 6 and 11 return to schools on 6 July.
  • Head of the KZN education department Enock Nzama directed that Grade R pupils stay at home "until further notice".


KwaZulu-Natal will not accept Grade R pupils back at schools on Monday, the provincial education department said on Thursday.

In a circular which provincial education department head Enock Nzama signed, parents were advised that Grade R pupils should stay at home for the time being.

This despite the fact that the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) decided that pupils in Grades R, 6 and 11 should return to school on 6 July. The decision was made after Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga met with education MECs on Thursday.

"After careful consideration of all the reports, [the] CEM took a decision that only Grade 6, Grade 11 and Grade R will return to school on Monday, 6 July 2020. The decision affects all provinces," the department said in the circular. Other grades will be phased in during the month in a differentiated approach in specified time frames.

"However, the province has taken a decision to only accept Grade 6 and Grade 11 on the 6 July 2020. Grade R learners must temporarily remain at home and await further advice," the circular read.

Pupils in Grades R, 1, 2, 3, 6, 10 and 11 were expected to return to classrooms on Monday and join their peers in Grades 7 and 12, who returned on 8 June, after they were away for more than 10 weeks due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"We will adjust the reopening phases, based on the risk-adjusted strategy, which is a considered attempt to balance our approach to school reopening, taking into account all factors that affect the work we do," Motshekga said.

The minister said the department was guided by observations of a spike in cases and the recognition that schools were based in communities, directly affecting pupils.

News24 reported on Thursday that schools, through their principals, said they were already having difficulties in screening Grade 7 and 12 pupils. They anticipated they weren't going to cope when other grades returned, according to a survey conducted by teacher unions.

Covid-19 has infected hundreds of pupils and more than 1 000 teachers countrywide, the national department said over the weekend.

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