The government has postponed the reopening of schools by two weeks from 27 January, 2021 to 15 February, 2021, Deputy Minister of Basic Education Dr Reginah Mhaule announced on Friday.
Mhaule said the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) and Cabinet’s decision affects both public and private schools.
“This includes private schools that have reopened already. They will need to postpone their reopening to a later date. This is done to provide relief to the health system which is already struggling to cope with the current demands,” she emphasised.
New dates for reopening of private schools will depend on the calendar they adhere to. For public schools and private schools which follow the same calendar, new reopening dates are as follows:
- School Management Teams (SMTs) will report on Monday, 25 January, 2021.
- Teachers will report on Monday, 1 February, 2021.
- Learners will resume on Monday, 15 February, 2021.
“[The Council of Education Ministers] took this difficult decision having considered all factors, as backed up by research and statistics, regarding the current state of the health system. The priority remains saving lives” Mhaule said.
She added that the Department will now embark on a series of meetings with provinces, starting next week, to assess the state of readiness for schools reopening.
“Now that Cabinet has taken a decision, we will once again go back to our stakeholders for consultation on the details of the opening of schools for 2021 school year, amid the pandemic,” the Deputy Minister said.
South Africa remains gripped by a more severe second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, recording more than 20,000 deaths in the last two weeks alone.
The country has recorded nearly 1.3 million COVID-19 cases since the pandemic started. As of Thursday, 14 January, 2021, recoveries stood at more than a million, translating to an 80.9 percent recovery rate.
In response to the second wave, the government moved South Africa to an adjusted alert level 3 in December and introduced a raft of new restrictions, including beach closures and a ban on most indoor and outdoor gatherings.
On Monday this week, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced more restrictions such as closure of 20 land ports of entry until 15 February.
“It is necessary that we keep the alert level 3 measures in place until we have passed the peak of new infections and we are certain that the rate of transmission has fallen enough to allow us to safely ease the current restrictions,” he said.