The department of basic education is considering the possibility of allowing all primary school pupils to return to school on a full-time basis.
In a statement, education ministry spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said: “The department is currently investigating the possibility of returning all learners at primary school level due to the learning losses suffered as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic. The proposal is now being considered at the national joint operational and intelligence structure.
“The council of education ministers will also consider the matter this week. An announcement on the outcome of the discussions will be made in due course,” he added.
While TimesLIVE had last month reported that meetings about this were under way, the department has confirmed that this only affects primary schoolchildren for now.
Schools are scheduled to reopen for the second school term on Monday.
Since the coronavirus outbreak last year, schoolchildren have been attending classes on a rotational basis to apply social distancing in classrooms. Until a decision is made, schools will continue to apply the rotational approaches with the standard practice of social distancing, regular washing of hands and sanitising still being in place.
Meanwhile, the education department said it was gearing up for the vaccination of teachers especially those above the age of 60.
The department expressed the hope that the tragedies experienced in the first school term would not be repeated. This included issues of bullying among pupils. In an incident in Limpopo, a 15-year-old victim, Lufuno Mavhunga, committed suicide, allegedly after being bullied at school.
Mhlanga said: “As the second term begins learners are reminded to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the statement of commitment that says:
- as a learner you are expected to accept that the main reason for being in school is to learn and develop academically, socially and culturally;
- adhere to school rules;
- respect the legitimacy and authority of teachers;
- participate in learner representative councils (LRCs) to safeguard your interests;
- show respect to other learners and not to discriminate; and
- avoid antisocial behaviour like theft, vandalism, assault, sexual harassment, alcohol, and drug abuse, as well as other activities that disrupt the learning process.”
Meanwhile, a gazette released by basic education minister Angie Motshekga last month also updated lockdown regulations for schools, allowing sports and extramural activities to recommence.
The gazette stated that schools will now be allowed sport and extramural activities albeit without any spectators.