Schools in South Africa will now reopen on 19 July, a week earlier, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced.
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This comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday announced schools would close this week instead of 9 July as the country moves to Adjusted Alert Level 4 lockdown to tackle the third wave and ease the burden on the healthcare workers.
On Sunday, the President told the nation that schools will shut their doors from Wednesday, 30 June.
Motshekga said the Council of Education Ministers unanimously agreed that all learners in public, independent and private schools should close this coming Wednesday.
Meanwhile, she told journalists that the School Management Teams, teachers, learners in hostel facilities and those with special education needs have until Friday, 2 July.
The Minister was addressing the media in the Free State on the Basic Education sector’s response to the impact of Covid-19 on schooling on Monday.
“Public schools will come back from the winter vacation early, on 19 July 2021, instead of 26 July 2021 as it was originally scheduled in the 2021 school calendar,” said the Minister.
According to Motshekga, all necessary arrangements will be made to continue with the feeding scheme, while the winter vacation learner support programme for Grades 11 and 12 will still operate under strict Covid-19 conditions.
The Minister said the May/June 2021 supplementary examinations would be undisrupted because very few candidates sit for the assessment.
In addition, schools designated as vaccination sites must remain open to continue with the inoculation programme.
“It is important that we all work together to complete the vaccination as soon as possible,” she said.
According to the Minister, there are now over 200,000 staffers who have been vaccinated in the sector and is confident that the department will meet the target of inoculating 582,564 by next week.
Meanwhile, Free State is planning to wrap up its education sector inoculation programme by Friday this week.
The Minister said the sector would remain vigilant in monitoring the developments of the epidemiology, working closely with the Health Department including the earlier pronounced full attendance of primary school learners from the first day of the third school term.
Motshekga has encouraged the learners to tune into Woza Matrics 2021 Catch-Up Programme and take part in the Tswelopele Campaigns.
The campaigns provide digital and non-digital learning resources through the DBE-TV on Open-View Channel 122, SABC 1, DStv Catch-Up and YouTube channels, as well as digital and mobile chat platforms.
“These platforms were put in place to minimise the negative impact of Covid-19 on learning, and to provide further learning opportunities in the context of the restrictions that are currently in place.”
She has urged learners to remain safe by not gathering in crowds, applying hygiene practices and avoiding activities that may expose them to infections.