There will be daily screening of pupils and stuff to detect coronavirus, Education Minister speaks

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Extensive delivery of materials is on as grades 12 and 7 make first move

It’s back to school for grade 12s and 7s on June 1 – the cabinet and the national coronavirus command council have now ratified basic education’s plan to reopen schools after a two month break due to the outbreak of Covid-19.

The other grades will follow in “due course”.

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Basic education minister Angie Motshekga announced last night that the reopening of schools as of June 1 will go ahead as planned in a phased approach. She said the revised school calendar would be gazetted “soon”.

This would indicate the opening and closing dates and the breaks in between.

“The coronavirus has brought a lot of anxiety to us as a nation. I am aware that parents and children, teaching and non-teaching staff have been asking questions over the future of the academic year and what is going to happen to them and the academic year.

“There was always certainty that schools will have to open,” she said.

Motshekga said the safety of teachers, staff and pupils remained of the upmost importance.

“The key principles that had to guide our work was to be informed by the safety of learners, the safety of teachers and our workers in schools, and also ensuring that, as we plan to reopen schools, it does not contribute in any way to the spread of the virus.

“Independent and public ordinary schools will open even in the metropolitan areas.

“Every school must adhere [to] and observe the health and safety protocols that will be put in place.”

Motshekga said the department has received many representations from parents and organisations since preparations for the reopening of schools got under way.

She said to ensure that no schools operated without water, the department has entered into an implementation protocol agreement with the department of water & sanitation and Rand Water.

“We will ensure that no school goes without water. Just-in-time delivery will be made,” Motshekga said.

She said the delivery of the Covid-19 essentials including sanitisers and masks were already being done in all provinces to ensure that they are stored in safe places.

She said measures will be introduced to ensure that pupils who use scholar transport adhere to Covid-19 safety precautions including sanitising hands before they enter buses and ensuring that distance was managed between pupils in t he bus.

Motshekga urged parents to work closely with schools to ensure that pupils with pre-existing illness were identified and assisted.

“Schools will work with parents to obtain the information which once again needs to be treated with the utmost care. This matter is of paramount importance and we appeal for cooperation in this regard.”

The reopening of schools however comes as the department is faced with 1,577 cases of vandalism at schools across the country, Motshekga said.

“[Of these], 463 are in KZN and 336 are in Gauteng.

“This is truly a disturbing trend that will set us back in our efforts of trying to get back the academic programme. We appeal to members of the public to help the police bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Motshekga said the school nutrition programme will also resume on June 1.

“All food handlers will be supplied with the required personal protective equipment including gloves, aprons and cloth masks.

“These have already been procured by provinces as part of a basic health and hygiene package.”

– Sowetan


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