After days of consultations and deliberations, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) has announced that the reopening of public and private schools will be delayed by two weeks. Private schools that have reopened already will need to postpone their reopening to a later date.
The Council of Education Ministers (CEM) in conjunction with the National coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) and Cabinet resolved to delay the reopening of schools in the interest of saving lives.
“We consulted with CEM, heads of education departments, teacher unions and other associations. All stakeholders were united in supporting a delay in the reopening of schools,” said DBE Deputy Minister Makgabo Reginah Mhaule.
According to Mhaule the following groups will return on the dates below;
“The priority remains saving lives,” said Mhaule.
“We will have a series of meetings with provinces next week to check on the readiness to open schools,” added Mhaule.
Mhaule also said: “The ECD centres will reopen on the 25th. If they are ready we are not saying they must wait. If they can protect the health of the young ones we can not hold them back. Parents have to go to work.”
“Parents are expected to pay school fees for January. Schools rely on these fees. If you can’t pay fees, please speak to your school.”
Mhaule said some matric exam markers have lost their lives, while others withdrew from marking, due to fear and anxiety; but also because for some of them, their own family members have tested positive.
“In the majority of cases, the educators indicated they had attended funerals or ceremonies, attended by big groups of people, resulting in gatherings that were not monitored for compliance with health protocols, which includes the wearing of masks, social distancing, and regular sanitising of hands. We will have a series of meetings with provinces next week, to check on the very latest, regarding the state of readiness; taking into account the Cabinet decision from yesterday’s meeting,” said Mhaule.
“Now that Cabinet has taken a decision, we will once again go back to our stakeholders for consultation on the details of the opening of schools for 2021 school year, amid the pandemic,” she added.
“Let me take this opportunity to thank the Minister, MECs. HoDs of PEDs, our social partners and stakeholders, as well as all colleagues in the sector for the work done thus far. We are living under difficult circumstances that require commitment, dedication, sacrifice, and selflessness. We need to ensure that in all that we do, we put health and safety as our apex priority,” she added.