Govt publishes dates for schools reopening – but unions, governing bodies say no

Image credit: Twitter/South African Government

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has published directions for the phased-in return of learners, educators and officials to schools.

In a government gazette notice on Wednesday, Motshekga confirmed that grades 7 and 12 as well as Year 4 of School of Skills should return to school on Monday, 1 June.

She also included dates when other grades will return to school, starting from 6 July. Below is a summary of the amended school reopening calendar.

1 June, 2020

  • Grades 7
  • Grade 12
  • School of Skills: Year 4

6 July, 2020

  • Early Childhood Development (ECD)
  • Grades R
  • Grade 3
  • Grade 6
  • Grade 10
  • Grade 11
  • School of Skills: Year 2 and 3
  • Schools for Learners with Severe Intellectual Disabilities (SID): Grades R, 1, 2, 3, and 6
  • Special Care Centres for Leaners with Severe and Profound Intellectual Disabilities (LSPID): Years 1-3

3 August, 2020

  • Grade 4
  • Grade 5
  • Grade 8
  • Grade 9
  • School of Skills: Year 1
  • Schools for Learners with Severe Intellectual Disabilities (SID): Grades 4 and 5

Motshekga said only those schools that have complied with the minimum health, safety and social distancing measures will be allowed to open.

She added, “A parent who chooses not to send a learner to school must apply to head of department who, in terms of section 4 of the South African Schools Act, may exempt a learner entirely, partially or conditionally from compulsory school attendance, if it is in the best interests of the learner.

“A parent who chooses not to send a learner to school is obliged to apply for home education in terms of the relevant section of the South African Schools Act.”

The Minister said the May/June examination for candidates who registered for the Senior Certificate and the National Senior Certificate will be administered in November/December 2020 unless unforeseen circumstances occur.

Unions and governing bodies: Schools are not ready

Despite the Minister’s gazette notice, several unions and school governing bodies issued a statement on Friday afternoon insisting that schools are not ready for reopening.

The unions included the SA Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU), National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (NAPTOSA), SAOU, Professional Educators Union (PEU), and National Teachers’ Union (NATU).

The Federation of School Governing Bodies of SA, National Association of School Governing Bodies and the Governing Body Foundation also signed off on the statement.

They said, “Unions and national school governing body associations agree that it would be a grievous mistake to force the reopening of schools on 1 June 2020.

“It is believed that the Minister should retract her announcement in this regard and delay any further announcement to give the system more time to ready itself for a common reopening, because if not, we will see a haphazard reopening situation.”

To download the government’s gazette notice from, click here.

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