Home schooling an option many Eastern Cape parents will adopt

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Parents have been given the option to keep their children away from school for the rest of the academic year on condition they are homeschooled, and many Eastern Cape parents will be taking up the offer.  

The option of exemption from school attendance is for parents who have children with underlying illnesses or who may fear for the safety of their children at schools due to Covid-19.

A guideline issued by the department of education said written communication to the school principal and supporting documents, such as health records, would be required for the “exemption from school attendance” application process.

Parents who choose this route will have to deregister their children from school. Should they wish to return, they will have to reapply in the next academic year.

Department of Education spokesperson Loyiso Pulumani said: “The department appreciates that some of the parents are apprehensive and fear for the safety of their children in this time of Covid-19.

“Others are compelled by the comorbidities suffered by their children which may place them at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus.”

According to department of education’s website, parents who choose to homeschool “must keep a record of attendance, keep a portfolio of the pupil’s work, maintain up-to-date records of the pupil’s progress, keep a portfolio of the educational support given to the learner, and keep evidence of the continuous assessment of the pupil’s work”.

The website also says parents must keep evidence of the assessment and/or examinations at the end of each year and evidence at the end of grades 3, 6 and 9 that shows whether the pupil has achieved the outcomes for these grades.

A letter sent to parents this week from an East London primary school principal said if children did not return to school because of health reasons, parents had the option to receive schoolwork from home.

“Parents will still be required to pay school fees. Your child will receive work and academic support from the school during this time. Your child will also complete assessments to enable them to proceed to the next grade,” the letter read.

Sethu Ndlela said she would be keeping both her children at home.

“My daughter is in grade 2 but she is asthmatic so I can’t risk it. I’d rather she repeat grade 2 than to lose her, because if she got corona she would die since her lungs are very weak,” she said.

“My son is in preschool so he’s at home. You can’t really get a two-year-old to practise social distancing and keep his mask on the whole day.”

Another parent, Jamie-Lee Paterson, said: “We decided to keep our child out of school for the rest of this year. Luckily she’s only in preschool. But I think I would have made the same decision no matter what her age.”

Tazlin Vosloo, who has two boys of school-going age, said: “I’m certainly going to try to take the boys back to school if the doctor gives [us] the go-ahead as one of my sons has allergies. I think it’s important for the children’s mental and emotional health to get back to a more normal routine, even if it is a new normal.”

Children are probably safer from contracting Covid-19 at school than in their communities, says a child health expert.

According to Prof Mignon McCulloch, head of paediatrics at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Cape Town, with many parents going back to work under level three of the lockdown, children could face safety issues at home and, as a result, are better off at school.

McCulloch, chair of the SA Paediatric Association, said there was no need to panic.

“Going back to school will not only give those children who have no access to online resources face-to-face education, but it will also improve their mental and psychological wellbeing,” McCulloch said.

Sethu Ndlela said she would be keeping both her children at home.

“My daughter is in grade 2 but she is asthmatic so I can’t risk it. I’d rather she repeat grade 2 than to lose her, because if she got corona she would die since her lungs are very weak,” she said.

“My son is in preschool so he’s at home. You can’t really get a two-year-old to practise social distancing and keep his mask on the whole day.”

Another parent, Jamie-Lee Paterson, said: “We decided to keep our child out of school for the rest of this year. Luckily she’s only in preschool. But I think I would have made the same decision no matter what her age.”

Tazlin Vosloo, who has two boys of school-going age, said: “I’m certainly going to try to take the boys back to school if the doctor gives [us] the go-ahead as one of my sons has allergies. I think it’s important for the children’s mental and emotional health to get back to a more normal routine, even if it is a new normal.”

Children are probably safer from contracting Covid-19 at school than in their communities, says a child health expert.

According to Prof Mignon McCulloch, head of paediatrics at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Cape Town, with many parents going back to work under level three of the lockdown, children could face safety issues at home and, as a result, are better off at school.

McCulloch, chair of the SA Paediatric Association, said there was no need to panic.

“Going back to school will not only give those children who have no access to online resources face-to-face education, but it will also improve their mental and psychological wellbeing,” McCulloch said.

By Gugu Phandle 

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