The return of Grade 7 and 12 pupils was shifted from 1 June to 8 June in order to afford more time for some provinces to prepare for the reopening.
Speaking to News24 on Monday, provincial education spokesperson Tidimalo Chuene was terse: “The MEC [Polly Boshielo] was part of a meeting of the Council of Education Ministers where the decision was taken to shift the dates.
“We want to believe that those things were taken into consideration,” she said.
Teacher unions have expressed doubt that the province will be ready next Monday.
The province has more than 500 schools which have no water and proper sanitation, and the delivery of personal protective equipment (PPEs) for teachers and learners has not been completed.
SA Democratic Teachers Union provincial secretary Sowell Tjebane said it was clear in the last meeting with education authorities that the province may not be ready until July.
He also pointed out issues such as slow pace of appointing screeners at schools, cleaning and disinfecting of schools, and the lack of proper guidelines on managing teachers or learners presenting signs of Covid-19.
“In some instances, the department had attempted to coerce principals of schools to do this task (of screening),” Tjebane said.
The Professional Educators Union’s Mosadi Sekwadi said the reopening of schools on the announced date was also hampered by lack of clarity on the proposed trimming of the curriculum.
“That task has not been completed. The department itself is not ready because there is no uniformity in its addressing of the issues,” Sekwadi said.
Commenting on the curriculum, Chuene said: “There was a process to trim the curriculum for Grade R up to Grade 11, but I don’t have the details how far is the process.”
She said pupils at boarding schools who had already returned would use this week as an orientation period. Special schools would reopen in July, she said.