Please note: This page will be updated as new information becomes available.

When are schools going back?

The Education Department announced that matrics and grade seven learners are going back to school on June 1, as well as small schools. The Department is keen that the matric year does not get sabotaged by the virus. Schools will have to manage how they ensure social distancing and hygiene etc, and schools are preparing for this.

There are no dates yet for other grades or for ECD centres, but a revised school calendar will be issued soon.

The debate around schools is very challenging. Schools are places where children are close to each other, often in crowded classrooms, so social distancing will be very difficult. Some schools don’t have enough toilets and taps to make sure learners are able to wash their hands. There is also the problem of learners getting to school on public transport.

But on the other hand, learners are missing school, and some workers are going back to work, which means there may be children who also need to be looked after. Can we really afford to keep learners at home for much longer? Some people are calling for online schooling, but this is very difficult for many learners to access.

These are all the factors that the government is weighing up to come to further decisions.

Parents who don’t feel comfortable sending their children back to school will not be forced to. They have two options, they can homeschool their children or their children can repeat the grade. The South African Schools Act allows parents to homeschool children. All parents need to do is register their children and present a plan to the province so that they can be provided with the correct curriculum information. If a child is going to repeat a grade, this needs to be applied for.

 

When are universities and colleges going back?

Universities and colleges have also had to face difficult decisions. The Minster of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, announced that no colleges would open during Level 4. So there will be no face-to-face teaching for these institutions – except for final year medical students.

However, as students are older, universities and colleges have found it easier to move to online learning. There have been various concerns about how poorer students will afford data and devices to access the internet, so some universities are in the process of loaning students laptops and giving them data. The government is also working with cellphone companies so that students can access their academic material at no data costs. But there are still many students who are living in difficult situations and not able to access online learning, and so there are discussions continuing on this topic.