The Western Cape Education Department has assured that all systems are in place to ensure a safe return for more grades on Monday. This as Grades R, One, Two, Three, Four, Six, Nine, Ten and 11 returned for the first time in several months on 24 August 2020.
Mitchells Plain district Director Granville Stander said the Back to School Drive is aimed at giving parents the confidence that schools are safe.
The measures include the screening of learners and teachers on arrival, the need for them to wear masks and the regular cleaning of schools and sanitizing of classrooms.
“There are a number of measures that have been put in place really to ensure that schools comply with all the health and safety regulations to make schools a safe place for learners and teachers to return to. Obviously, learners with comobidities should follow the advice of the medical practitioners and many schools have also gone the extra mile and created Online Learning content for learners who have to stay at home still to be provided with the academic programs,” he said.
He added that parents who have opted to keep their children at home need to ensure that structured learning takes place and that children are encouraged to read regularly to avoid falling behind academically.
“Parents need to weigh up ‘what’s going to be in the best interest of my child’ being at home. If it’s in a structured environment at home and is a structured program that parents or adults are supervising then that fine. But, if Learners are left to their own devices and they part of the streets in the community, the risk levels is equal to that of them being at school. And so, probably the best place for them to be would be at school,” he added.
Stander pointed out that every school is meant to have a Covid-19 compliance officer who is responsible for ensuring that all safety protocols are adhered to. The director noted that there have been no formal investigations into non-compliance and all schools appear to be ready.
“Surely, you know when more numbers return then compliance will become a greater issue. We’ve got a compliance team at the district. If there are any compliance issues will be glad to hear them and of course, make sure that we monitor the compliance. Our circuit managers have also been in the field to make sure that they’re compliant is taken very seriously at our schools. They’ve been doing some compliance monitoring as well as other District officials who have been visiting schools.
Stander said the commitment of grade 12 learners, who registered over 70% attendance, was encouraging and noted that the ‘understandably low” attendance rates are predicted to increase going forward. He said the departments goal is to have every matric learner who returns to school, to be successful in their final examination.
“We are rallying behind are matriculants for this year with today already started with tutoring sessions at various hubs in the districts. There are hubs for our identified grade 12’s based on the term one performance can go to and get tuition that’s organized by the district,” he said.
In relation to the syllabus for the rest of the grades, Stander explained that each school has it’s own method to have everything covered and that some schools may opt to drop a subject or two.
“We are seeing, on a day-to-day basis, applications to deduce the content. Content has also been curtailed a little bit for our learners so that just the fundamental aspects of every subject is covered. We know it’s going to be a tight squeeze trying to get through all of the work but our focus for now is just to ensure that the Temporary Revised Education Plans at every school meets the needs of every learner and every grade in the school,” he said.