Education minister Angie Motshekga says that the Department of Basic Education (DBE) plans to reopen schools for more grades, despite 775 schools being affected by Covid-19 since reopening to grade 7 and 12 pupils on 8 June.
The education department noted in a statement that 523 pupils, 1,169 staff members and 775 schools have been affected by Covid-19.
“Schools have been temporarily closed and reopened around the country in the past three weeks to allow affected areas to be disinfected,” it said.
As many as six million pupils are set to return to school from 6 July, despite calls from teachers and union, Sadtu to keep institutions closed.
Update from the DBE
Pupils in grades R, 1, 2, 3, 6, 10 and 11 are due to return to the country’s 23,675 public schools.
Education minister Angie Motshekga said in a Sunday Times column that the Department of Basic Education (DBE) plans to reopen schools for more grades “soon.”
“As the basic education sector, we are Covid-19 battle-hardened and ready,” said Motshekga.
“We understand the contestation from some quarters as this is a new terrain of struggle, but we shouldn’t allow panic to guide public policy.”
She added that research shows the longer children from poorer backgrounds are not at school, the less likely they are to return at all.
“Furthermore, the current wave of Covid-19 cases reported in schools since June 8 is classic community transmissions; as yet they are not originating from our facilities,” she said.
However, Motshekga cautioned that community transmissions will eventually become “bushfires” within schools, adding that “it is not a matter of if, but when.”
The minister said a number of measures have been taken to protect children going back to school. These include: