DBE says school attendance will differ according to the infection rate of each area

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) is to meet with provincial education departments to evaluate plans for the reopening of schools and most importantly the return to traditional daily attendance for primary school learners. The issue of space at schools to house a full class while keeping to the Covid-19 health and safety measures – which include social distancing – has come up a number of times.

DBE spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga explained that once all the sessions with provinces are done the department will make an announcement at a media briefing in the next few days. Mhlanga said the department has adopted a “differentiated risk adjusted strategy”, meaning that in areas where there are high infection rates the planning will be different and the attendance of learners will be dealt with in another way.

“In other words, the one size fits all approach will not be applicable. The fact is that not all areas are experiencing the same challenges,” he said.

The civil unrest in KwaZulu and Gauteng could have became a super-spreader as people protested and looted in large crowds failing to comply with the Covid-19 health and safety measures, neither wearing masks nor keeping social distance.

Schools are expected to reopen on July 26. Primary schools have been instructed to use that week to prepare themselves as they return to the traditional daily school attendance model on August 2.

This notice by the DBE Minister Angie Motshekga was published on July 15.

“Educators must continue with teaching and learning from July 26, in accordance with the timetabling model adopted by the school, until August 2, from which date the return to the traditional and daily attendance timetabling model must be implemented,” the gazette said.

University of KwaZulu-Natal education expert Professor Labby Ramrathan said the reopening of schools amid the third wave might not be a wise decision and that a blanket decision could not be made about opening schools.

“Partial opening may be possible, and crucial transition classes may be allowed into schools. A clear balance is needed in terms of the need to continue with schooling and the health of the learners and educators,” he said.

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