The Department of Basic Education (DBE) is now considering cancelling the October school holidays. The reason behind this is to make up for the days for teaching and learning lost due to the pandemic.
Since the news broke, parents, school governing bodies and teacher unions have spoken out against this possibility.
When the President made his last announcement that schools would go on an early recess due to the third wave, 101 school days had taken place at that point. Schools were then closed a week earlier than planned and reopened later than they were initially planned to.
DBE Spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga, said:
When schools reopened, we had to go back and process the implications of that announcement by the President and we realised that we are losing a week. We sought to recover that week somewhere and the only place we could get was in that holiday period.
"We thought that would be the best thing to do to try to recover the lost days," Mhlanga explained as he spoke on the latest proposal to cancel the October school holidays.
The upcoming winter school holiday is set for 1 October until 10 October. No decision has been made yet.
Mhlanga went on to say that the current curriculum coverage is "not looking good at all" and that he's dealing with the teaching losses every day.
We would not be able to recover from the disaster that is currently unfolding due to Covid-19. As a sector, as a department, we are trying to recover as much time as we can so that we use that time for teaching and learning.
The issue is not as heavy for Matrics as they are attending school every day, said Mhlanga, but for the rest of the grades, they are suffering. He said, "there's a lot that is going wrong because schooling is not back on track as it should be".
The South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) CEO, Chris Clopper, says that his, as well as other unions, are not in support of the department's decision, as was taken in their absence.
All the unions are not comfortable with it. In fact, they reject it and we also know that the school governing body organisations also do not support this particular proposal. It is unilateral it was not consulted with us and they a decision and we find that unacceptable.
Clopper also said that the department needs to consider the risks posed by the Covid-19 pandemic on teachers.
Mhlanga has responded to this saying that the department understands the reasons for being against the move but that everyone should remember that the previous school holiday was a week extra and that they are not being unreasonable.
"We're basically balancing what has taken place as per the calendar that was approved, schools also started late this year," explained Mhlanga.
The department was looking at a 3 year recovery plan but that is said to not be enough and that learners are losing a lot of what they should be benefitting from during this recovery time.