Lockdown Level 3: Some independent schools open doors to Grade 7 and 12 pupils

  • Crawford School reopens for Grade 7 and 12 pupils.
  • Independent Schools bound by the directions of education minister.
  • Proposed date for the return of schools changed to 8 June.

Independent school, Crawford, opened up its doors to Grade 7 and 12 pupils on Monday, as directed by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Friday.

"We have followed all the protocols and guidelines and regulations of the DBE, Department of Health and Department of Labour, so we have it all – from social distancing in and out of classes, through to sanitising and screening," ADvTech academic director Dr Felicity Coughlan told News24 on Monday.

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Coughlan said that the independent school had been following protocols and was not "tempted to go with gimmicks".

"We are sticking with science and behavioural change through developing understanding of why we are doing what we are, so that it makes sense to students and staff to comply. This is the best way to turn these new realities into habits," she said.

News24 visited Crawford in Lonehill, Johannesburg, to find Grade 12s returning to school. Before entering the premises, pupils were checked for their temperature, where protocol was observed.

Crawford North Coast
Crawford Schools re-opens its doors to Grade 7 and 12 learners as directed by the Minister of DBE on Friday. (D Wagner)
Crawford Lonehill
learner gets sanitised at Crawford Lonehill on 1 June 2020. (R Swanepoel)
Crawford Lonehill
Learner gets their temperature checked at Crawford Lonehill on 1 June 2020. (R Swanepoel)

Crawford hopes to return other groups of pupils from next week through its phased plan, based on the guidelines and the need to ensure that students are able to make the adaptation.

While most independent schools were ready to open on Monday, some elected to keep pupils at home due to an announcement by the education department on Sunday that they should not return and would only be expected back on 8 June.

This comes after various schools governing bodies (SGBs) and unions met with the Motshekga on Saturday to express their concerns, saying the sector was not ready to proceed with academic activity.

READ | Defiant teacher unions call on schools not to reopen amid astounding confusion

The Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (Isasa) states that independent schools are bound by the directives of the minister. As of Friday, the regulations on the phased reopening of schools clearly directed that Grade 7s and 12s could return.

While it does not have a definite figure of how many schools returned and how many chose to stay at home, Isasa says that those who elected not to, did so at their own discretion.

"It was not an issue of readiness of independent schools, but it was just a cautious approach from some of our members. In addition, some of the schools wanted to hear from the minister first prior to making a decision," executive director Lebogang Montjane told News24 on Monday.

"Many schools have not opened across the country, the Western Cape is going to be different because they were clear that they were ready to open. Now that the Minister has spoken, I’m certain that more schools will open tomorrow," he said.

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