DBE ‘not considering’ school closures in 2021 despite COVID second wave

More than 200 teachers have died after contracting coronavirus since the outbreak on home soil in March.

Pupils from Olivenhoutbosch Secondary School on their first day back on 8 June 2020. Picture: Gauteng Provincial Government.

JOHANNESBURG - The Department of Basic Education on Thursday said at this stage, it was not considering keeping the schools shut next year despite the rise in COVID-19 infections among teachers.

More than 200 teachers have died after contracting coronavirus since the outbreak on home soil in March.

The department said it had put contingency plans in place to rope in additional help from retired teachers and educators abroad to be prepared for the 2021 school year.

Children are expected to return to the classrooms in less than a month, with many parents fearing to send their children back to hotspot coronavirus areas.

The department's director general Mathanzima Mweli said: “The advice is that we prepare for the year, we’ve also been working with other countries like Zimbabwe, Namibia, Kenya, Nigeria and others that have gone through the second wave. The advice is that we need to put measures in place to co-exist with the virus because were not even sure how long this is going to take.”

The South African Democratic Teachers Union’s Mugwena Maluleke said next year would have many more challenges in the classroom amid a pandemic, which include replacing teachers who died of the virus.

“We’re calling for decentralisation of appointment of teachers so that on the first day of schooling, the principal and the school district are able to appoint the teachers.”

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