SEKHUKHUNE – Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga on Tuesday evening announced that the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) and cabinet approved the reopening of schools as of 01 June 2020.

Motshekga said independent and public ordinary schools would open even in metropolitan areas and that every school ought to adhere and observe health safety protocols that would be put in place.

“We will start with Grades 7 and 12 and small schools. The other grades will follow in due course. In the reopening of schools we have been guided by three basic principles, to save lives. Learners and teachers who are in other provinces will be able to return to their residence. Arrangements are in place. All learners, educators and support staff will receive orientation and training at the start of the school reopening, commencing with Grade 7 and 12,” said Motshekga.

She said nutrition programme would be reopened for all learners when Grades 12 and 7 were reintroduced to schools on 01 June 2020.

“All food handlers will be supplied with required personal protective equipment including gloves, aprons and cloth masks. These have already been procured by provinces as part of a basic health and hygiene package. The school nutrition budget will be utilized according to the revised school calendar and where feasible, school meals will also be extended to catch-up programmes for Grade 12,” informed Motshekga.

According to Minister Motshekga the department has entered into an implementation protocol agreement with the Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation and Rand Water.

“We will ensure that that no school goes without water. Just-in-time delivery will be made,” informed Motshekga.

On the state of readiness, Motshekga said Council of Education Ministers (CEM) met on Monday to consider the latest reports on the state of readiness for the reopening of schools.

“CEM has noted the progress that has been made. We wanted School Management Teams to open schools and receive the material required. The first consignments have arrived in schools and more deliveries will be made as time progresses. We are confident that the reopening of schools across provinces will happen as outlined in the protocol that has been developed. All indications are that the precautions for the reopening of schools will be met obviously with the premium being on saving lives,” said Motshekga.

She said delivery of COVID-19 essentials was being done in all provinces to ensure that they were stored in safe places.

“The items regarded as essential are sanitisers, masks, water and sanitation, and of course the schools will be cleaned and most are being cleaned as we speak,” informed Motshekga.

The minister added that during consultation with social partners, it became clear that they needed a different approach when it came to special schools.

Motshekga said they were working with organizations who were advising them on the best way forward regarding the phased-approach of special schools.

She said their planning and procurement had considered the needs of learners with disabilities and those in special schools and that provinces had put in place plans that would ensure that no child was compromised.

On Early Childhood Development Centres (ECDs), Motshekga said they understood that ECDs also provided the necessary caring and feeding services for children.

She said due and careful consideration would be made to ensure that they maintained the delicate balance between allowing the centres to operate, alongside the safety and health of children and their caregivers.

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