Motshekga urges schools to reduce social distancing gap

Minister seeks to see more pupils accommodated in classes

Basic education minister Angie Motshekga.
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga.
Image: ANTONIO MUCHAVE

The department of basic education is proposing to reduce the social distancing between pupils in class to even lesser than a metre in order to allow more learners at schools. 

Basic education minister Angie Motshekga revealed this during her briefing on the state of readiness for the 2022 academic year on Tuesday.

Motshekga said schools were expected to have 1.5-metre social distancing between desks in a classroom as part of Covid-19 protocols. But in some of the schools with limited space, this approach has had to change. She said that a proposal has been put to the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs for social distancing to be further reduced.

She said currently schools are allowed up to 1 metre social distancing.

 “We also want the space to be even reduced to 0.5m [in some cases] so that we can have social distancing which we think could also help us accommodate many learners,” she said.

The department has been trying to find new ways to ensure that more pupils get a chance to be in class in its rotational timetable. This system allows children to take turns attending class in a week to order to comply with Covid-19 protocols.

Motshekga added that provincial education departments have been asked to introduce more infrastructure to schools that were already crowded even before Covid-19. This will enable these schools to accommodate more pupils in class while observing Covid-19 protocols.

The department also announced that it is still doing assessment on the damage that has been done on schools due to weather.

Currently, Gauteng has reported that 57 schools had been badly affected by the rains that poured in the province.

Motshekga used the opportunity to update the nation on addressing the backlog on infrastructure in over 3,000 schools.

She said in the past year, water projects were implemented in 1156 schools. A total of 373 were electrified and 286 new schools built.

Earlier in the day, the department announced that matric results would not be released on any public platform in compliance with the Protection Of Personal Information Act of 2013 which came into effect on July 1 last year.

Matric results will be released on January 21.

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