The Basic Education Department said that it had revised its decision to allow almost 6 million pupils back to school from next week because of the rising number of COVID-19 infections in the country.
The department said that only grades R, 6 and 11 would be permitted back in class following consultations with the Council of Education Ministers.
The move affects schools across the country.
The Basic Education Department said that it could not ignore South Africa’s worsening COVID-19 pandemic.
Ministerial spokesperson Mpho Mokgatlhe: “We realise that there are other provinces that are not ready and other districts and schools.”
The initial decision was going to allow pupils in grades 1 to 3, as well as those in grades 6, 10, and 11 back in class.
Mokgatle said that government was always reviewing its plans.
“There is no way that we can ignore the fact that infections are rising rapidly, more than expected, therefore we also need to reconsider our situation as a factor.”
The department’s spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said that the decision to allow only some pupils back to class had not been taken lightly.
“This came after a four-hour-long meeting which took place earlier this morning to consider five different reports that impacted on the work the department was doing at the moment in the context of COVID-19.”
The department has conceded that the reopening of schools had not been a smooth process, with over 770 institutions forced to close their doors at some stage after registering a case of COVID-19 on school grounds.