Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga was on Sunday forced to change the date for the return of learners to school after receiving reports that the majority of schools were not ready. The date on which all learners have to report back to school is the 08 June 2020.
The Council of Education Ministers (CEM) met on Saturday to assess the state of readiness for the reopening of schools. CEM received a report from the Consortium of service providers coordinated by the National Education Collaboration Trust on the External Evaluation and Monitoring of the state of readiness. Rand Water, as an Implementing Agent delivering water to 3 500 schools, also presented its report.
The Heads of Education Departments Committee (HEDCOM), also presented its technical report. All three reports converged on the fact that a substantial number of schools would not be ready for the re-opening on Monday, albeit tremendous progress had been made by most provinces, which overall reflected 80% state of readiness.
CEM was concerned that, in some provinces personal protective equipment for learners in particular, had not been received; and that some schools had not been made ready for the arrival of teachers and learners.
CEM then took decisions, which have since been shared with teacher unions, school governing body associations, independent schools’ associations, the SA Human Rights Commission, Principals Association, South African National Association for Specialized Education, and other stakeholders. Meetings on Saturday and Sunday took place with all the different stakeholders in which the department shared the outcome of the reports and the proposed course of action.
CEM took informed decisions to have schools to continue to reopen on 01 June 2020, but only with School Management Teams, Teachers and Non-Teaching Staff arriving to prepare for the arrival of learners. Provincial and district officials would ensure that health, safety, and social distancing requirements, are strictly adhered to when teachers arrive. The whole coming week will be used for the proper orientation and training of teachers, the mopping and ramping of all supply chain matters, and final touches to the readiness of each facility for the arrival of learners.
Reports indicated that some learners in boarding schools had already arrived. Schools were urged to continue with orientation of the learners in terms of the health and safety procedures that should be in place.
The Department held meetings with the association representing independent schools wherein it was agreed on how they should proceed regarding the reopening of their schools.