Are schools ready to go back this week?

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Schools are ready to continue to work within the established Covid-19 health protocol, the minister said. (Getty Images)
Schools are ready to continue to work within the established Covid-19 health protocol, the minister said. (Getty Images)

During a recent media briefing, Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga updated the nation on pressing educational matters, including the DBE's vaccination programme, the NSC supplementary exams, the reopening of schools, and the recommencement of full-time classes for primary school learners

As schools return to in-person teaching this week, here are the notable aspects of this contentious move.

More than 500 000 have been vaccinated 

According to the minister, of the 582 000 personnel in the Basic Education Sector targeted for vaccination, 517 000 have been vaccinated. 

Distance to vaccination sites, vaccination hesitancy, preference of one type of vaccine to another, recent positive Covid-19 results, as well as medical and religious reasons were noted for the unvaccinated. 

Also read: The proposed 2023 school calendar is ready for public comment

The 2021 NSC supplementary exams 

Sharing the progress of the Grade 12 supplementary exams, which took place from 8-19 July, the minister reported that 249 851 candidates sat in hopes to improve results achieved during last year's November/December NSC examinations. 

The results for the supplementary NSC exams will be released on 24 August 2021.

The minister said that those who find they have been unsuccessful should not be discouraged since they remain eligible for enrollment in the upcoming November 2021 NSC examination.

Reopening schools

The minister expressed full confidence in reopening schools and confirmed that the decision was made after numerous consultative sessions. 

The commencement of full-time classes for primary schools is 2 August 2021, as schools are ready to continue to work within  established Covid-19 health protocol, the minister said. 

Speaking from their on the ground experience, learners Yolanda and Betty, who are also members of the national non-profit organisation, Equal Education, say they're not so certain about how ready their schools are for the reopening. 

Pupil reactions: 'What's the point of risking getting infected?' 

According to Yolanda, Covid-19 safety protocol is non-existent at her school, and despite wanting to return, she has expressed concern since "teachers prioritise Grade 12s". 

"[Matriculants] are given all the attention because they 'represent' the school. So what's the point of risking getting infected, and we still don't learn? They are giving us scoops, so they have marks to submit," she said. 

The pupil also expressed her concern about learning from home. 

"I don't get to spend enough time studying due to the day to day things I need to do when I'm home. I'm expected to meet certain needs to help out at home when I'm around". 

Betty says full-time classes at her school have already resumed, with classroom numbers exceeding 50. 

"My school isn't following Covid-19 measures, we only [use] sanitiser in the morning when we get to school, and some classes have more than 50 learners. I think learning from home is going to help us so that we don't get infected with coronavirus".

Watch the minister's full address here

What are your thoughts about the reopening of schools? 

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