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There is no crisis at schools, says Basic Education Department

Eight grades were welcomed back into the academic programme yesterday after a precautionary break last month to deal with a surge in coronavirus cases.

FILE: Grade 7 pupils at a Western Cape primary school on 1 June 2020 sit in class after schools reopened following a national coronavirus lockdown, which started on 27 March 2020. Picture: @WCEDnews/Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - The Basic Education Department has dismissed reports that some schools were facing a crisis as more pupils return to the classroom.

Eight grades were welcomed back into the academic programme on Monday after a precautionary break last month to deal with a surge in coronavirus cases.

Some teachers' unions said their members raised concerns over shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), overcrowding and overwhelmed educators.

The department said learning successfully took place in the majority of schools across the country, as millions of pupils returned to their desks, for some, the first time since March.

The comments were in stark contrast of reports from some unions, which said many schools were under-prepared for the influx of pupils.

The Department’s Elijah Mhlanga said: “Let’s allow the system to take in learners, to settle down and then we will assess the situation again. We should refrain from using the word crisis. There is not crisis. We need to think of solutions.”

Mhlanga admits some of the challenges faced by schools on Monday included the implementation of a timetable, which aims to rotate various grades to control overcrowding and maintain social distancing.

“We believe the rotation system will work as it allows us to keep schools as 50% capacity and to maintain social distancing.”

With only a few months of the academic year remaining, the department has pleaded with parents, teacher, and pupils to work together.

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