Angie Motshekga, MECs propose plans for school year

Mathanzima Mweli, director-general of the department of basic education. / Twitter
Mathanzima Mweli, director-general of the department of basic education. / Twitter

The department of basic education is proposing that the school timetable be rearranged to allow different grades to attend classes on alternate days of the week or in alternate weeks.

Schools could also introduce a platoon system in which pupils in certain grades attend classes in the morning and others in the afternoon.

These are the three options the department's director-general Mathanzima Mweli put on the table during a virtual meeting with school governing body associations and a principals' association on Sunday.

The bodies that participated in the meeting included the Federation of Governing Bodies of SA Schools, Governing Body Foundation, National Association of School Governing Bodies (NASGB) and the SA Principals' Association.

During his presentation on the re-engineering of schooling, Mweli is said to have told the meeting schools should operate at 50% of normal capacity.

The document he discussed was expected to be tabled at a special meeting of the Council of Education Ministers (CEM yesterday, which would include basic education minister Angie Motshekga and the nine provincial education MECs. The CEM will consider progress made towards the reopening of schools.

Motshekga is now expected to address the nation this afternoon about preparations for the reopening of schools, after her anticipated address yesterday was pushed out by a day.

One member who attended Mweli's presentation said some of the basic principles around organising the timetable discussed included departmental regulations, the type of school, the time left in the school calendar and the level of difficulty of different subjects.

Dr Faith Kumalo, the department's chief director for school health, did a presentation on co-morbidities affecting teachers and how they planned to address this.

The department had received guidance from the national health department about the risk factors for severe Covid-19. The member said Kumalo mentioned that teachers 60 years and older who were healthy would not be considered high risk and could report for duty.

Among the risk factors mentioned in a document sent out to stakeholders are moderate to severe hypertension, congestive cardiac failure, moderate to severe asthma, chronic kidney disease, severe obesity and third-trimester pregnancy.

NASGB general secretary Matakanye Matakanye declined to comment until Motshekga tabled the presentations.

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