The Western Cape education department (WCED) has welcomed the decision to reopen schools, saying it was a necessary risk and that the screening of staff and pupils for Covid-19 symptoms would become a daily chore that everyone would have to learn to live with.
The WCED said in preparation for reopening, it had placed orders for school safety and hygiene packs, which will be received at schools by principals over the coming week.
This includes two masks for every pupil and staff member in all public schools, hand sanitiser and liquid soap, cleaning materials and non-contact digital thermometers.
“Principals will also oversee the thorough cleaning of schools in preparation for the arrival of staff and pupils. The cleaning materials being delivered to schools include bleach, which is recommended by both South African and international health authorities as the means to be used for disinfecting surfaces,” said spokesperson Kerry Mauchline.
She said that as grades were due to return in phases, there would be enough space for classes to be spread out to maintain the required 1.5m between pupils for the first grades returning.
“An interim list of conditions that present a risk for staff and pupils as ‘comorbidities’ – such as hypertension, diabetes and TB – has been sent to schools. This list specifies in detail which conditions are regarded by health experts as high risk, and how they are measured. Principals and SMTs will be compiling confidential lists of pupils and staff with these conditions.
“Parents whose children have comorbidities will be offered the opportunity to oversee their children’s learning at home with the support of the department, until restrictions are lifted. A letter will be sent to schools with a form for parents to sign indicating their intention to keep their child at home and to oversee their learning,” said Mauchline.
She said that there was no way that the curriculum in its original form could be “caught up”.
“So the DBE has trimmed the curriculum to ensure that the essential concepts required for progression to the next grade are taught,” she said.