Schools must remain closed, education department emphasises

THE Department of Basic Education (DBE) on Thursday warned against the premature re-opening of schools.

This comes after the department became aware that some independent (or private) and public schools were already preparing to reopen much earlier, and even receive learners ahead of the schedule announcement by Minister Angie Motshekga.

In some schools, teachers have already been reporting for duty and parents meetings have been held where plans were announced to have learners back in school in May.

“The premature re-opening of schools is not permitted as the department is still finalising COVID-19 school compliance protocols. Uniform standards will be applicable in schools as part of the measures put in place to protect learners and teachers, reduce infection and save the academic year,” said the DBE in a statement.

Regulations were published on 29 April 2020 in terms of the Disaster Management Act, 2002 (Act No. 57 of 2002) which listed education services under Alert Level 4 Table 1. Q. as permitted on a date and schedule yet to be announced, to direct when schools may reopen.

Until such date and the schedule are determined, all schools, including independent schools, must remain closed.

Minister Angie Motshekga has already indicated how she intends to have schools reopened and until a final decision is made, no school may proceed to open and receive learners.

The proposed date for the gradual return of learners is 1 June 2020.

“I therefore urge schools to familiarise themselves with all the regulations and directives to ensure compliance. In the meantime, schools must consult with the Department of Health and Department of Employment and Labour, in anticipation of the determination by the Minister. I am emphasising that until this determination is made schools must remain closed,” DBE Director General Hubert Mathanzima Mweli said.