Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi on Monday said that the province was in the middle of a COVID-19 siege and no school would be allowed to operate over the next two weeks under his watch.
Lesufi visited Helpmekaar Kollege in Johannesburg earlier following reports that the independent school would be operating on Monday in contravention of the new guidelines.
Last week, the Basic Education Department announced a decision to postpone the reopening of schools to the 15th of next month due to a surge in COVID-19 infections across the country.
Visiting the school on Monday, Lesufi – standing next to Helpmekaar’s pricipal – said the school started its teaching activities last week, before Mhaule’s announcement. But, having considered its options, the school had taken the decision to proceed with online learning.
“Yesterday, they reconsidered and felt that they should migrate to online learning and it’s only seven learners in the boarding facility and those are the seven learners that will remain at the school.”
“This weekend, I was flooded with reports that there are schools that believe they should go ahead with reopening” Lesufi said during a brief media conference following his visit. “We sensed danger and we felt that we can’t just persuade the public education system – we need to also persuade the private education system”
“The reasons are simple. They are in the same communities, their parents are going to buy textbooks and school uniforms – they are going to be up and down. It is not about the capacity of an institution to manage the virus, it’s the movement, because the virus spread through movement”
“The school [Helpmekaar Kollege] was already open last week. The reopening was not [an act of] defiance. They had already opened. The decision [to postpone reopening] came late, and when the information was brought to [the school’s] attention…they reconsidered [it] and they felt they should migrate to online training.”
Lesufi also spoke to the CEO of Curro schools and they have also agreed to retract face-to-face learning.