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Minister wants social distance reduced from 1 metre to 50cm in South Africa


Negotiations with relevant stakeholders to reduce the social distance between pupils from one-metre (1m) to half-a-metre (0.5m) as primary schools battle to accommodate all pupils at full capacity are currently underway as Basic education minister Angie Motshekga wants the distanced changed in South Africa.

Speaking at Monde Primary School in Katlehong on the East Rand yesterday, Motshekga said the department requested for the social distancing regulation to be amended so that schools can go back to teaching normally.

“We are in negotiations with the co-operative governance [department] and all other organisations to ensure that the time these children lost in their learning is recovered.

“The 1m space [between pupils] is what is allowed now legally from 1.5m but because of the full capacity attendance, we would like to reduce to half a metre.

“However, we have advised that all schools with space can go back to full capacity and those that don’t can continue with the rotation method,” she said.

“It’s (full capacity) not working fully but we have agreed that all grade 7 pupils should come back full time because they are preparing for high school and will no longer be with us [in primary school], ” added Motshekga who also handed out extra masks to jubilant pupils.

“Although the principal had outlined a few challenges at the school due to limited resources, we will continue to ensure that learning runs smoothly.”

The school’s head girl, Ayanda Majola, said looking at the daily Covid-19 statistics made her understand the speed at which the virus spreads.

“Being at home, I learnt to appreciate education and teachers because learning at home is not easy.”

Carol Zuma, chairperson of the school governing body, said: “Temporary classrooms would mean a lot because we are scared of crowding children in classrooms and risking more infections.”

Busisiwe Dlamini, a grade 7 teacher who has 41 pupils in her class, said she began teaching at full capacity on Monday.

“It’s not easy because there’s still anxiety and panic among learners and teachers but we agreed to try it for the sake of the education of our pupils,” Dlamini said.

SA Principals Association spokesperson Thomas Hlongwane said they informed their members to continue with rotations if they don’t have space to accommodate all pupils at full capacity.

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