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No hugging as schools reopen 'next week'

The guidelines form part of measures the government is proposing to ensure it controls the spread of coronavirus.
The guidelines form part of measures the government is proposing to ensure it controls the spread of coronavirus.
Image: 123rf.com/ PaylessImages

Social distancing in classes, hiring of more teachers and forcing educators over 60 years of age to stay at home - these are some of the guidelines by the department of basic education in preparation for the reopening of schools, possibly next week.

The guidelines, which were presented to the portfolio committee on education yesterday, form part of a raft of measures the government is proposing to ensure it controls the spread of coronavirus.

Teachers and pupils will be discouraged from hugging, shaking hands or having any other "direct contact" with others.

The government said it would provide face masks for both teachers and pupils as well as ensuring that there is screening for temperatures for both educators and learners.

According to the department's director-general Mathanzima Mweli, classrooms will also be sanitised prior to the start of schooling, and that there will be limited movement of pupils between classes, while wearing masks during school will be compulsory.

The department also presented its Covid-19 recovery plan for schooling.

It said grades 7 and 12 are expected to be back at school on Wednesday May 6.

But the date was later yesterday contradicted by basic education deputy minister Makgabo Reginah Mhaule, who said "the date of May 6 is not realistic and we need to change it".

"In the presentation that I have now, that date is changed," Mhaule said.

Mweli told parliamentarians that the school term will start on Monday May 4 with the return of teachers.

Grades 11 and 6 will return on May 20;

Grades 10 and 5 will return on June 3;

Grades 9 and 4 will return on June 17;

Grades 8 and 3 will return on July 1;

Grades 2 and 1 will return on July 8; and

Grade R will return on July 15.

Mweli said the provinces have identified schools with critical water supplies and classrooms are to be sanitised prior to start of the school day.

"There will be additional substitute posts to replace staff due to long illness. All learners, educators and support staff will receive orientation and training at the start of the school re-opening commencing with grades 7 and 12."

Mweli also said the school calendar had been amended and would end on December 9 instead of December 4.

"The lost school days will be recovered by shortening the June holidays to five days and the September holidays to a long weekend.

"The grade 12s will be expected to write the set fully fledged examinations based on covering the entire curriculum and other grades will be given a reworked curriculum and assessed on 80%.

"The May/June exams for the National Senior Certificate will be combined with the October/November exams. The standardisation and release of matric exams will be moved to mid/end of January 2021," Mweli said.

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