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Nearly 2.5 Million Pupils To Return To School Today After 4 Months Away

About 2.5 million pupils will return to their classrooms on Monday morning after four months of being at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grades R, 6 and 11 pupils will be joining the grade 7s and matrics.

It’s been a month since grade sevens and matrics went back to school and since then, 2,740 teachers have been infected by COVID-19 while 1,260 pupils also caught the virus.

Fourteen teachers and staff, as well as three learners nationwide, have died from the virus.

A tough decision by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga as South Africans wait for an anticipated COVID-19 storm.

To address the spatial challenges at many schools, Motshekga said that the department had encouraged platooning and the rotating of different grades on different days.

“We are also aware that a lot of school days have been lost and continue to be lost this year. For some grades more than others, many days will be lost. The revised annual teaching plans have been developed and adopted by provinces and have been communicated to schools and teachers.”

She has addressed the scepticism of many on the decision to have grade R pupils return to the classroom in the middle of a pandemic: “We hear from paediatricians that those in the foundation phase are more at risk if they are not stimulated on an ongoing basis.”

The North West, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal have halted the return of grade R pupils to the classroom.

Motshekga has given them until the end of this month to have them back at school.

Motshekga said that while the number of teachers and pupils contracting COVID-19 was concerning, she said there was no proof that they contracted it while at school.

Motshekga said that parents must take responsibility by monitoring the loading of their children onto private scholar transport.

The overloading of scholar transport is an ongoing problem in the country with scores of pupils being killed every year in accidents caused by packed minibus taxis.

Concerns have now been raised about these vehicles being used to take children to school.

Motshekga said that the Education Department could not monitor every single scholar transport vehicle: “So on private transport, it’s to really again to ask parents to make sure that they pay or commission people to transport their children have safety regulations in place because we cannot honestly say we can be everywhere and all the time. It’s not possible and we will be misleading parents if we say we can.”