The Department of Basic Education (DBE) will now hold consultations on the openings of the 2021 school year as we still experience this pandemic. They will be monitoring schools to check whether they are ready to reopen and to also ensure that it can be done safely.
To ensure that schools will have safe reopenings, Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Reginah Mhaule, said:
We will have a series of meetings with provinces next week to check on the very latest regarding the state of readiness taking into account the Cabinet's decision from yesterday's meeting.
They also will be checking the status of educators as many have already been lost to Covid. DBE will register whether teachers have comorbidities and who will be working once schools open.
The Department of Health will advise DBE on the latest research and status of Covid in the country which will continue to be studied to ensure that reopening schools is still safe.
We need to take care of the lives of teachers and the lives of learners.
In terms of research, it was found that Primary schools and Early Development Centres could be opened. Statistics show that younger children are not as much of a risk as older children but due to there not being enough information when it comes to the new variant, the departments did not want to risk it and decided against doing so.
Some schools might be ready to open before others.
The department will also work closely with all provincial education departments to discuss the true impact of Covid resulting from the deaths of teachers and other members in the sector.
"If we work together, adhere to all the health protocols, we will win this battle," said the Deputy Minister.
Covid also affected markers with some passing away or withdrawing from duty for various reasons. Reasons from withdrawing span from fears of the virus to markers being exposed to the virus itself.
On Friday morning, Mhaule announced that both public and private schools will now reopen on 15 February for learners. Schools were originally set to open on 27 January but due to concerns about the second wave, this had to be delayed.
Private schools which already started opening will close and reopen on 15 February.