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LIVE BLOG: Schools to reopen from 1 June, pupils to be screened daily

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga updates the nation on the sector’s state of readiness to resume the 2020 academic calendar.

WATCH LIVE: Minister Angie Motshekga's update on the preparations for the re-opening of schools

Motshekga says her department is not planning to harm anyone.

Two masks will be provided for all children in all quintiles.

Motshekga says it's in everyone's interest for this plan to work.

Motshekga says with regards to screening, different provinces have their own plans for who will conduct the screening. Some will use trained people, some will use teachers, etc.

The department has had to redirect funds from other budgets to deal with the many measures that are in being put in place.

Motshekga says the Department of Home Affairs will facilitate the issue of pupils who are in other countries and need to return home for schooling.

Minister Motshekga says parents who want their kids to only return next year are free to do so, but that they cannot hold back other kids from returning. "We can't close schools because there are kids who are not well..." She says the futures of other kids can't be determined based on the preferences of others.

Minister Motshekga says all the decision made were based on scientific evidence. For example. no COVID-19 deaths for kids under 9 have been recorded yet.

Parents who don't want their children to return to school can keep them at home, but must continue homeschooling them.

Parents with chronic conditions are encouraged to not come into close contact with their kids that are attending school.

Parents whose kids have other underlying or chronic health issues must report this to schools.

Teachers of all grades will go back on the same day.

Schools are good for children, the minister says. She says UNICEF and WHO guidelines recommend the resumption of schooling as not being in school has a detrimental effect on vulnerable kids.

Children will be screened on a daily basis.

Motshekga says space is an issue. If schools had enough space to accommodate a certain number of children, she would say all grades should reopen on the same day.

"We understand that Early Childhood Development centres also provide the necessary caring and feeding services for children from families. Due and careful consideration will be made to ensure that we maintain the delicate balance between allowing ECDs to operate, alongside the safety and health of the children and their caregivers. We are working together with the Department of Social Development on this matter as it straddles both departments at the moment."

"Our planning and procurement has considered the needs of learners with disabilities and those in special schools. Provinces have put in place plans that will ensure that no child is compromised."

"In addition to these, the Basic Education Sector has psychologists and social workers who had prior training on counselling. They will be able to use their skills to support schools. We are mindful of the needs of learners with disabilities. The DBE is working with provinces to ensure that special schools are adequately provided for in all the plans we have put together."

 

"Schools as social institutions are serviced by the Psychosocial Support Services of the Departments of Social Development and Health. We have been working closely together with other departments in the Social Cluster."

"We are aware of the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on families and society in general. It is unprecedented and as a result an increase in social, mental, psychological and emotional difficulties amongst learners, educators and officials, is anticipated due to losses and trauma experienced through COVID-19. "

All learners, educators and support staff will receive orientation and training at the start of the school reopening.

The revised school calendar will be gazetted soon.

The National Command Council has approved the reopening from 1 June. This will begin from grades 7 and 12.

The department has received the green light to reopen as of 1 June, this includes public and private schools.

The department is working with the Transport Department to ensure hygiene.

For learners who will be reopening on the first of June, measures for safety with regards to school feeding schemes are being put into place.

School management teams and teachers will arrive at schools, on the 25th May.

Motshekga says they have come up with some measures to make up for lost time.

"The virus has forced us to re-engineer the basic education system," she says.

The supply of water is a big challenge for the department. They are working with the Water Department to ensure no school goes without water.

Motshekga appeals for cooperation from parents to help the department.

Schools are currently being cleaned.

Motshekga says they are confident that preparations are taking place and that the plans they set out will be implemented.

With regards to the state of readiness, PPE materials have been sent to school management teams already. 

Motshekga condemns the vandalism of schools. 

1,577 schools have been vandalised across the country. 466 in KZN and 366 in Gauteng. She says perpetrators must be brought to book.

Motshekga says they have been guided by worldwide trends in their decision-making.

Motshekga says the department is aware that parents, children, staff have been asking questions about the future of the academic year. She says cabinet agreed that key principles such as safety must guide the reopening of schools so that it does not contribute to the spread of the virus.

Minister Angie Motshekga says the coronavirus has brought a lot of trauma and anxiety and has turned lives upside down.

The briefing will now begin...

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga is expected to update the nation on Tuesday on the sector’s state of readiness to resume the 2020 academic calendar.

On Monday, Motshekga held a meeting with MECs and heads of departments to finalise plans to ensure pupils are safe when they return to the classroom, which could be as early as next month.