Dept confirms reopening of schools postponed by two weeks

Deputy Basic Education Minister Reginah Mhaule said that the Council of Education Ministers together with Cabinet had taken a decision to postpone the reopening of schools for both private and public schools.

Chalk and a blackboard duster in the refurbished Samson Senior Primary School in the Eastern Cape. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Basic Education Department has decided to delay the reopening of both public and private schools.

It announced that pupils enrolled at public schools will now return to the classroom on 15 February and not 27 January as originally planned.

Teachers' unions, parents and experts had raised concerns about children heading back to school while the country battled to contain a second wave of COVID-19 infections.

Deputy Education Minister Reginah Mhaule said that given the pressure experienced by the health system over the past few weeks and the spike in COVID-19 infections, the sector could not go ahead with its plans to reopen schools this month.

"The Council of Education Ministers, in conjunction with the National Coronavirus Command Council, has taken the decision to delay the opening of both public and private schools by two weeks."

Mhaule said that private schools that had already reopened would need to follow the current guidelines as well.

"The new date for the reopening of private schools will vary depending on the calendar they follow."

The deputy minister said that while the reopening of schools had been postponed to next month, the department would continue to monitor the situation and would review the guidelines as and where necessary.

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