SA schools brace themselves as more pupils head back

Miss Palesa Mahlwele speaks to pupils during the first day back at school at Wordsworth High School in Benoni, 8 June 2020. Picture: Neil McCartney

Less than 4% of schools needed to be temporarily closed due to Covid-19 since Phase One of the reopening on 8 June.

South Africa is set for the return of more pupils to schools on Monday as those in Grades 6 and 11, as well as some Grade R pupils, head back to class.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced on Sunday afternoon that the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) resolved to consider staggering the return of grades – a tactic used by other countries to minimise traffic in schools – while keeping teaching and learning in motion.

While the entire country was urged to receive Grade R pupils on Monday, Motshekga said different provinces would be at different levels of readiness for their return.

However, she added that all provinces had to receive pupils in Grade R by the end of July at the latest.

Motshekga also said that since the return of pupils in Grades 7 and 12 on 8 June, 2,740 out of 440,000 teachers were infected by the novel coronavirus.

The minister added that this comprised just 1% of the entire teacher population in SA.

She said that in the same period, 1,260 pupils were infected.

This, she said, implied that 0.01% of pupils were infected by the virus.

Motshekga also announced that 11 teachers had died of Covid-19, as well as four non-teaching staff members and three pupils.

She also said that less than 4% of schools needed to be temporarily closed due to Covid-19 since Phase One of the reopening on 8 June.

Motshekga said it was not yet possible to measure the impact of the school closures because significant pupil assessments were yet to be conducted. She said a loss of learning and teaching time would not positively impact pupils.

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