Schools are set to partially reopen next week with teachers opening on Monday, May 4, and pupils two days later.
Basic education director-general Mathanzima Mweli told MPs on Wednesday that the department was planning to phase-in the return of pupils to school with grade 7 and grade 12 pupils being the first to go back next Wednesday.
Other grades will return to class on a staggered basis over weeks between May and July, as the Covid-19 restrictions are gradually eased, with the last batch (Grade Rs) expected to go back on July 15.
“As part of managing the risk, we will start with grades 12 and grades 7 which are your exit grades and they are more mature learners who can help with the orientation of younger learners when those come in.
“They are also the least number of learners which helps to limit the risk,” he said.
Mweli, who was addressing Parliament’s basic education oversight committee, said there will be no May/June exams this year and instead that time will be used for teaching.
According to the department’s plan, grade 12 pupils will write their preparatory exams in September with the final exams rescheduled to November and December.
The matric results will most likely be released around mid- to end of January 2021, he said.
In a supporting document, the department protocols advise that schools must ensure:
- Hugging, handshaking and direct contact must be avoided;
- Cloth masks to be worn by pupils and teachers at all times;
- No mass public events;
- Sports matches, choral practices and festivals, Eistedfods are not permitted;
- Extra classes should be arranged in small groups that maintain social distancing.
Schools must also sanitise classrooms prior to the start of every school day, ensure everyone sanitises hands when entering classrooms, and place limits on movement of pupils between classes.
Proposed dates for a resumption of schooling are:
- Grades 12 and 7 – May 6
- Grades 11 and 6 – May 20
- Grades 10 and 5 – June 3
- Grades 9 and 4 – June 17
- Grades 8 and 3 – July 1
- Grades 2 and 1 – July 8
- Grades R – July 15
This is a developing story.