Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced that all schools will reopen on 1 June as planned, following approval by the Cabinet and the National Coronavirus Command Council.
Motshekga’s announcement on Tuesday follows extensive meetings with provincial MECs, unions and school governing bodies earlier in the day.
She said she was well aware of the pressure placed by the Coronavirus pandemic and that this has not been easy on parents, teachers and schools.
She said they have had to strike a balancing act which involves dealing with the safety issue and also saving the academic year.
The first batch of pupils who will go back to school on 1 June will be Grade 12 and Grade 7 pupils.
This particular group is at the end of the stage of the schooling year.
She said the return of other grades would be discussed later.
“Grade 7s will have the whole school to themselves and the Grade 12s will have the whole school to themselves.
“The issuing of phasing has been considered. Learners will be screened every day,” the minister said.
She said all schools including those in the metros and private schools will be open.
Earlier this month, Motshekga said the draft proposal had envisioned that teachers would be going back to work from 18 May but because of delays with the delivery of protective equipment and other sanitation resources, teachers will now have to start on Monday, 25 May.
She said an updated and adjusted calendar of the school year would be published soon.
The 2020 schooling year would greatly affect the 2021 academic calendar.
Feeding schemes at schools would resume from 1 June, and all service providers will be trained.
With regards to water and sanitation at schools, Motshekga said her department was working closely with the Department of Water and Sanitation to ensure the delivery of water tanks before schools open.
She defended the decision to re-open schools and cited reports from international humanitarian bodies that said a prolonged delay of schooling impacted children immensely, such as causing stress from prolonged separation from peers.
“Schools are good for children,” Motshekga said.