There is anxiety among teachers and principals over when and how the phased return to school of the different grades will take place.
This is according to the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa), speaking on Sunday ahead of the return to class of matric pupils on Monday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that schools would be closed for a month, except for matrics, who got a one-week break, and grade 7s, who got a two-week break, as Covid-19 cases were climbing rapidly. Grade 7s will return to class in a week’s time.
“We are anxious that the directions are yet to be published [in the government gazette], because it’s been a week and a bit after the president spoke and the minister [Angie Motshekga] hasn’t yet published the regulations.
“This has created a lot of anxiety among the teachers and principals because they actually don’t know when the different grades are going back. They don’t know who actually is going back, even tomorrow. Hopefully this will be published tomorrow [Monday],” Naptosa president Basil Manuel told TimesLIVE.
Manuel said they had proposed to the basic education department that the matriculants only return a “little bit later” in order to give the principals a break.
“The high school principals didn’t have one day’s break. Secondly, the closure that we have called for was not only about the teachers and the learners, but the department not being ready. So many provinces were not ready for the next cohort of learners coming in, so this would give them time to do that.
“The matrics were at school so it was expected for the system to be ready to receive them, but it was about all the others coming back very quickly after this week. That we are most concerned about,” Manuel said.
In a statement released on Saturday, the basic education department announced that the school year would finish in mid-December, and would not be rolled over to 2021.
Department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said there were 163 school days left for teachers and 156 days for pupils.
The school year for pupils in grades R to 11 is expected to be completed on December 15. To separate the third and fourth school terms, there will be a one-week break from October 26 to October 30.
According to him, the 2020 matric final exams would be completed by December 15 and marking would be concluded by January 22. Matriculants are expected to receive their results on February 23, 2021.
Mhlanga said the new school year will commence on January 25 2021 for teachers — and for pupils a few days later.
He said the updated calendar would be gazetted and published early this week.
Motshekga is expected to issue directions for the basic education sector this week.
“The directions will provide guidance on various matters affecting the basic education sector,” he said.
The SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) spokesperson Nomusa Cembi said they would be “closely monitoring” the return of the matriculants on Monday.
“We would be monitoring if schools are compliant, ensuring that there is proper social distancing and ensuring that all the regulations are met in terms of providing water and proper facilities.
“If none of those things are in place, no learner or teacher should put their lives in danger,” Cembi said.