DBE to monitor COVID-19 compliance across schools as most grades return to class

Most grades are expected back at school on Monday morning after closing for a second time at the end of July due to the coronavirus pandemic.

FILE: Classroom desks at Talfalah Primary School are fitted with handmade COVID-19 protective screens. Picture: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - The Department of Basic Education (DBE) said it would remain vigilant and continue to monitor COVID-19 compliance across all schools -- especially those identified in provinces considered hotspots.

Most grades were expected back at school on Monday morning after closing for a second time at the end of July, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With many pupils still battling to adapt to the new normal since they were re-phased into the academic programme earlier in August, the department said support was needed for those who felt anxious after not reporting to school since March.

The department said it was ready to receive more grades back into the schooling system after a four-week precautionary break.

However, some provinces were gradually stabilising schools before the influx, with the KwaZulu-Natal Education Department reporting that only 6,000 schools were ready to reopen.

Meanwhile, Gauteng, the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, was expecting over 1.5 million pupils to return to the classroom on Monday.

The departments Elijah Mhlanga said: “We have a lot more to comply with

Mhlanga said the department would face new challenges as it welcomed pre-schoolers and over 2,000 government-funded early childhood development centres under lockdown level 2.

“…But it’s something that we need to do our best to ensure that schools don’t become centres of infections.”

The department aims to conclude the academic year on 15 December.

Meanwhile, teacher unions have expressed little confidence in the readiness of schools across the country to welcome the remainder of grades back into the classroom.

Despite the department’s green light to resume teaching and learning, unions said underprivileged schools continue to be excluded and teachers are expected to cope with few resources.

The Professional Educators Union has accused the Basic Education Department of failing to consult unions before the re-opening of schools.

The union’s Johannes Motona said the majority of schools in rural areas were still facing the same challenges from the previous levels of the lockdown.

The National Teacher’s Union said its completely against the phasing in of more pupils… citing that teachers will buckle under the pressure.

Both unions said the provision of personal protective equipment and the implementation of a rotational system to ensure social distancing in some schools, remain a concern.

Download the EWN app to your iOS or Android device.