No disruptions as Grade 7s return to school, say provincial education departments

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A worker cleaning a classroom.
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  • Schools are expected to receive all grades from 24 August.
  • Matrics returned last week and were joined by those in Grade 7 on Tuesday. 
  • Various provincial departments say they are satisfied with the turnout of pupils. 

Grade 7 pupils returned to school on Tuesday after having been away for two weeks following the announcement of a four-week long break by President Cyril Ramaphosa in July.

Schools were closed from 27 July until 24 August, but Grade 12 pupils were given a week's break and Grade 7 had two weeks. 

Grade 12s returned last week. 

According to the Mpumalanga education department, 86 000 pupils in Grade 7 showed up at school on Tuesday.

Mpumalanga Education MEC Bonakele Majuba visited Tsandzanani Primary School in Nkululeko Circuit to monitor compliance of Covid-19 protocols.

The MEC urged parents to work with the department and report any issues where schools were not functioning well.

"We are satisfied to note the impressive turn-up of learners in schools around the province. We wish to urge all our learners to pay attention to their books, to do their homework and to study to cover the lost ground. 

"In the process, let us all stay safe and protect one another by observing the safety and health procedures," Majuba said.

READ | Education dept issues warning to those threatening to shut down schools

Meanwhile in Limpopo, departmental spokesperson Tidimalo Chuene said they had prepared to receive 125 759 Grade 7s. 

Chuene said it appeared the first day went "smoothly, without reports of incidents". 

She said the department was yet to receive reports on the actual attendance. It was expected to come from district directors during the course of the week.

According to North West education spokesperson Elias Malindi, pupils and teachers across the province returned to school without any disruptions.

Some of the returning teachers included those who had tested positive and subsequently recovered.

He said the provincial department had also appointed substitute teachers to fill in for those who were at home because of comorbidities. 

Disruption free

North West Education MEC Mmaphefo Matsemela thanked the community for a disruption-free return.

"We are pleased that our Grade 7 learners continued with teaching and learning, with no disruptions in the province. We are left with a few months to wrap the academic calendar and we wish that communities would really support learners by giving them a chance to finish the rest of the calendar year smoothly.

"We also encourage teachers and learners to maintain safety protocols by the continual washing of hands, keeping physical distance and sanitising throughout the school day," said Matsemela. 

Kwazulu-Natal education spokesperson Sihle Mlotshwa said the reopening had been smooth for their 12 districts.

Mlotshwa said 148 625 Grade 7s were reported to have returned to school in the province.

Gauteng's education spokesperson told News24 that an update on school attendance would be given during the weekly provincial command council briefing on Friday. 

In the Western Cape, there were  15 569 registered Grade 12 pupils and 93 980 pupils for Grade 7. 

While the two grades, including schools of skill year 4, had returned, the department's spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said there was no data of definitive figures for capturing the attendance of Grade 7 as yet. She said the detail should be available by the end of the week. 

The department said it continued to support its Grade 12 pupils with relevant material and had asked all schools to ensure that pupils were attending everyday while also accommodating other grades in their timetables. 

"They are our priority right now and we will work together to ensure that they are given the best opportunity to write these examinations. We know they can do it and their teachers are ready to help them going the extra mile." 

Attendance figures for the Eastern Cape will be added once received.

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