Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Monday morning apologised to South Africans for the inconvenience caused on Sunday when her department at the 11th hour announced that the phased reopening of schools would be postponed to 8 June.
Grade 7 and 12 pupils were expected back in the classroom on Monday.
“I really want to apologise wholeheartedly for the inconvenience caused yesterday. It was out of my control as I had to ensure all key stakeholders were informed,” Motshekga said.
The minister was speaking at a media briefing from the Sunrise View Secondary School, in Rustenburg on Monday morning.
She said the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) held extensive meetings on Saturday with various stakeholders in the education sector, where the decision was taken to postpone the reopening of schools.
Motshekga said that was done to ensure that schools compiled with the necessary health and safety standards as a substantial number of schools were not ready to re-open. She said schools that did not meet these standards would remain closed until they met the requirements for reopening on 8 June.
“Due to last-minute changes, on Saturday we had a CEM meeting and after the CEM we met with unions, governing bodies, and received reports… the decision that we took on Saturday forced me to use Sunday to do a series of consultations not to receive learners today [Monday],” Motshekga said.
Motshekga said school management teams, teachers, and non-teaching staff were still expected to return to work on Monday morning to prepare for the arrival of pupils next week.
“We must finalise all outstanding deliveries of your personal protective equipment (PPE) to schools, and the outstanding provision of water and sanitation,” she said.
Teachers should be inducted and undergo orientation about COVID-19 in order to ensure they could induct pupils, Motshekga said. She said provinces should finalise the training of screeners and school nutrition food handlers.
She said on Thursday officials would meet again to monitor the state of readiness before schools could reopen.
“We communicated, unfortunately, quite late that parents should not bring grade 7s and 12s to schools, but teachers who have received PPEs must return to work,” she said.