In summary: Draft amended school calendar proposes reopening schools on 6 May

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South Africa’s schools could reopen as early as Wednesday, 6 May, according to a draft amended school calendar presented by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to Parliament on Wednesday.

However, the plan is tentative and subject to approval by the National Coronavirus Command Council, DBE Deputy Minister Reginah Mhaule and Director-General Hubert Mathanzima Mweli said.

They added that the “phasing-in approach” would see teachers arriving on 4 May and grades 7 and 12 starting on 6 May. Another tentative date could be 18 May.

The school days lost as a result of the lockdown will be recovered by shortening the June holidays by five days and the September holidays by a long weekend. The 4th term will also be lengthened to close on 9 December, 2020.

Draft amended school calendar: A summary

Grades 12 and 7:

  • Term 2 to start on 6 May and end on 16 July.
  • Term 3 to start on 3 August and end on 23 September.
  • Term 4 to start on 28 September and end on 9 December.

The proposal will see other learners phased in as follows:

  • Grades 11 and 6 to start on 20 May.
  • Grades 10 and 5 to start on 3 June.
  • Grades 9 and 4 to start on 17 June.
  • Grades 8 and 3 to start on 1 July.
  • Grades 2 and 1 to start on 8 July.
  • Grade R to start on 15 July.

Implications for examinations:

  • Grade 12 learners will be expected to write the set fully fledged examinations, based on covering the entire curriculum, and other grades will be given a reworked curriculum and assessed on 80%.
  • The May/June Exams for the National Senior Certificate (Grade 12) will be combined with the October/November Exams and rescheduled for November/December.
  • Marking of examination scripts will run up to the end of December 2020.
  • Moderation, standardisation, and release of the results will be moved to mid/end of January 2021.
  • School Based Assessment (SBA) will have to be calculated without the May/June exams.
  • Grade 12 learners will still write preparatory examinations in September.
  • The November/December examination time table will have to be amended accordingly.

Sanitation and social distancing implications:

  • Sanitisation of classrooms before starting each school day.
  • Sanitisation of hands before entering classroom.
  • Limitations on movement of learners between classes.
  • No clustering of desks in classrooms.
  • Sanitisation of school transport buses.
  • Sanitisation of hands before entering buses and managing distance between learners in buses.
  • Compulsory wearing of cloth masks by learners and teachers all day, starting before boarding transport.
  • Physical distancing in classrooms – not more than two learners sharing a desk.
  • No hugging, handshakes and direct contact.
  • No mass public events, including sports matches, choral practices and festivals, and Eistedfods.
  • Extra classes should be arranged in small groups that maintain social distancing.

Screening and testing:

  • Screening of learners and educators, including temperature checks, to be conducted at reopening of schools.
  • Learners and educators who present raised temperatures will be considered for isolation and testing.

DBE said it has developed a basic sanitation and hygiene package and provinces are already procuring the items.

It has also developed guidelines for schools on maintaining hygiene during the pandemic, including recommendations on the proper use and cleaning of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Mweli said learners and older teachers (aged 60 and older) will be advised to learn or work from home and the department will support them in that regard.

The department will also establish additional teaching posts to prevent overcrowding in classes. No class will be permitted to have more than 40 learners. Mobile classrooms will be provided as a temporary measure.

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