Return to daily classes welcomed but questions remain on overcrowded schools

The new regulations were gazetted overnight, bringing an end to rotational learning in schools after almost two years.

Pupils at a Gauteng school line up for the first day of school on 12 January 2022. Picture: Xanderleigh Dookey Makhaza/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - Pupils from primary, secondary and special needs classrooms will once again be able to attend school on a full-time basis but the question many experts are now asking is: are schools ready?

Rotational learning was implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic because some schools in rural areas where not able to adhere to social distancing regulations.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has been visiting some of these schools in preparation for the full return.

The new regulations were gazetted overnight, bringing an end to rotational learning in schools after almost two years.

Under the new regulations announced by Cabinet, if you test positive for the virus but have no symptoms, you no longer have to isolate.

Another major change involves the scrapping of rotational learning in the education sector.

Teacher unions have welcomed the move, which allows children to return to the classroom full-time and make up for lost lessons.

But some schools in rural areas have been battling with overcrowded classrooms for decades, long before the pandemic darkened our doorstep.

So the question remains - are these schools ready to welcome pupils back on a full-time basis?

Naptosa's Basil Manuel said that the major issues needed to be addressed.

"We want to see that it hasn’t been a waste of two years of talking about overcrowding and the impact. This was created because of schools are overcrowded,” Manuel said.

Sadtu's Nkosana Dolopi agreed. He wants to know how government is going to deal with the problem.

"But we will be putting pressure on the government to provide even if it is prefab facilities," Dolopi said.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, Gauteng Premier David Makhura and other political figures have been calling for the social distancing regulation to be relaxed in schools, arguing that it leaves more children vulnerable to dropping out.