A few weeks ago, we asked you to help us find the best Covid-19 'keep learning' school initiatives.
We wanted to celebrate the schools, teachers and pupils who went above and beyond to ensure learning continued and communities were supported despite the tough and uncertain lockdown, and you delivered.
We received more than 200 nominations across the three categories.
Our judges chose 15 finalists, but so many nominees deserve a special mention for their efforts.
These superheroes proved once again why our schools are the backbone of our communities.
Even in the most difficult circumstances, they showed up for their pupils every day, striving for excellence while often contributing to children's education financially out of their own pockets.
Here's a look at the schools, teachers and pupils who rose above the challenges to serve the children of South Africa.
Schools: Best Covid-19 'keep learning' initiative
In this category, we asked you to nominate a school that found an innovative way to ensure pupils continued to learn.
Bryanston Parallel Medium School, Gauteng
In addition to its online programme, Bryanston Parallel Medium also provided support to both pupils and their parents including free Wi-Fi access as well as training on how to use the online learning technology effectively.
The school has also been commended for its excellent social distancing rules since reopening and most outstandingly for embracing the crisis with calm, professionalism and a deep desire to continue teaching whilst making sure students were always safe.
Edgemead Primary School, Western Cape
Edgemead Primary School immediately launched an RTHL (remote teaching home learning) program running when lockdown was announced.
This featured online content and learning for all grades and those students who did not have adequate devices were identified and offered a school iPad.
Upon schools re-opening, some parents preferred to keep their children home and every effort possible was made to keep the learning going.
Ferreira Primary school, Gauteng
Ferreira Primary school taught Grades 1-7 through the entire lockdown via app with teachers making explainer videos.
English reading was done through voice notes and maths was taught via videos. Teachers even purchased their own little chalkboards to use at home.
The entire syllabus was completed without leaving anything out and no child was left behind.
Fourways High School, Gauteng
From the moment the school went into lockdown, a plan for online learning was implemented.
Individual teachers were consistent in communicating with parents regularly keeping them informed as to what had been covered in the online programme and what assignments were due.
It was a full daily programme with no interruptions, and they managed to not only cover the required work but even be slightly ahead.
Ivy Academy, Gauteng
Ivy Academy exclusively used free apps to make learning possible for their mostly disconnected pupils and all learning materials were uniquely converted to accommodate this format.
Timetables were drawn up consisting of lessons and 'teacher contact time', where students could submit questions. Also, the teachers developed videos to motivate and encourage the students.
Every child participated and was monitored during the lockdown and every child endured and has emerged richer for the experience.
Laerskool Tygerpoort, Gauteng
Laerskool Tygerpoort went above and beyond to keep students motivated and positive during this time, from excellent videos, online classrooms, worksheets, and even online talent competitions.
When schools reopened, logistical solutions with different drop-off/pick-up gates for grades were organised along with sanitising and free masks.
The positive, energetic teachers and principal, along with prefects were exceptional.
Ligbron Academy of Technology, Mpumalanga
Ligbron Academy of Technology (Secondary School) wasn’t just "A Source of Light" to their own learners during the Covid-19 lockdown but also served their community, province, and all Grade 12 maths and science learners throughout South Africa.
The technology used by the school during Covid-19 included live online classes daily, and in-classroom recordings which were accessible to any learner in SA via YouTube.
Content on memory devices was distributed to make sure all learners from all financial backgrounds were accommodated.
Paarl School, Western Cape
Nominated for lifting spirits in odd and uncertain times by passionately addressing the emotional well-being of learners through digital technology.
Access to schoolwork was simplified through the use of free apps and direct communication with teachers. Pupils were also allowed to address their fears and share their experiences through regularly held conferences.
Southbourne Primary School, Eastern Cape
This school receives an A+ for not letting the lockdown negatively impact learners' completion of the year while making sure pupils were protected against Covid-19 and parents could relax while their children were are school.
During the hard lockdown, the school made sure that all the learners had tablets; schoolwork was sent through these tablets everyday and teachers were always available to assist. A timetable was drafted for all subjects, no subject was left out, and the tablets were set up to be user friendly to the children. All tests and assignments were done on the tablets.
Stellenbosch Hoërskool, Western Cape
At Stellenbosch High School (HSS), teachers had been well trained in online learning since 2017, and the school was ready for action when the announcement about restrictions came.
They created videos, self-marking quizzes, and a wide variety of other learning materials for learners to interact with.
For those who struggled with internet access, lessons were scheduled via app which did not require lots of data.
Wynberg Girls' Junior School, Western Cape
In light of Covid-19 regulations, Wynberg Girls' Junior School Grade 7 teachers and learners devised a new way of taking on their annual Grade 7 Entrepreneurship/Trading Day.
Taking the project online, the girls were taught all the basics about entrepreneurship - how to start a business, how to write a business plan and marketing strategy. They then created their own products using upcycled/recycled materials.
The girls then created their own video advertisements to market their products and 43% of the "businesses" sold out of their products and the project was a huge success.
Teacher of the year
In this category, we asked you to nominate the teachers whose extra efforts ensured their pupils did not fall behind, those who well beyond the call of duty.
Mrs Bianca Naidoo, Open Air School, KwaZulu-Natal
Naidoo went beyond the call of what was required of her. From the personalised messages she sent her pupils about homework and assignments, to the emails of work, due dates and return to school updates.
She checked on all the learners in her grades to see if they were well and how they were feeling. She remained calm, honest, patient and caring.
Evan Papier, Groendal Secondary School, Western Cape
He has gone out of his way to assist his Grade 12 learners during lockdown.
Even assisting his matriculants to apply to different universities/colleges and technikons, since his learners did not have access to the internet or simply not enough data to complete their online applications.
He offered to drop their applications at colleges to make things easier for them.
Gillian Tredgold, St Christopher's, KwaZulu-Natal
Ms Tredgold went above and beyond what was expected. She teaches Grade 3 at St Christopher's which is a special education school. She has a heart of gold, patience and has a love for all the children that pass through her class.
She made homeschooling easier by sending work via email and app, scheduled one-on-one sessions with each child per week, and read stories.
These efforts helped keep her children motivated. Teaching is a challenge but teaching special needs education takes a lot of love and dedication which Ms Tredgold has.
Tana Scott, Rundle College Private School, George
"While my friends have been able to return to school in August, I was not able too," writes Michael-John Martin. "I have a congenital heart valve disease, which puts me at high risk for severe illness from Covid-19. That means I have been in isolation since the end of March.
"Tana has helped me immensely to further my education online, almost every day we have done virtual geography lessons. She has also helped to coordinate the furthering of my educational needs in other subjects I have taken.
"On the rare occasion that I have had to go into school, she has made absolutely sure that there is no added risk or exposure to this coronavirus."
Best pupils' charity initiative
In this category, we welcomed nominations for either individual pupils or classrooms who made a special effort to help someone in need during lockdown.
IR Griffith Primary School, Gauteng
The entire school has been supporting a food bank drive to provide food to families during the lockdown which continued even after reopening.
The school had a civvies day where each pupil had to bring non-perishable food to school to be able to wear civvies.
Interact team of boys, Rondebosch Boys' High School, Western Cape
The Rondebosch Boys' High School (RBHS) community put their heads together to show their gratitude, appreciation and support to local nurses, doctors and healthcare practitioners.
The boys and parents of RBHS spent the last weekend of June in the kitchen baking up a storm, creating 400 gift packs of home-baked goodies which were then delivered to Groote Schuur hospital to be distributed to frontline workers.
Share your stories and questions with us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Anonymous contributions are welcome.
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