Schools around the country are gearing up to welcome back Grade 7 and 12 pupils under new health protocols, and with the increased foot flow, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has requested unnecessary visits be kept to a minimum.
Motshekga briefed the nation on Sunday afternoon about the plan for schools to finally reopen on Monday after a stop-start process to get them prepared to fight Covid-19.
She announced on Sunday 95% of schools were now equipped with the necessary equipment, while plans were afoot for pupils at the remaining 5%.
Motshekga praised the efforts by all education partners from 1 to 7 June to prepare the schools – and urged schools to now be protected from the coronavirus.
“We highly discourage any other person to come to schools – other than learners, teachers and staff,” she said on Sunday.
“We don’t know who is infected. Some refuse to wear masks.
“As of now, the rule will be: ‘You don’t just walk into a school’.”
Motshekga said they wanted “at all costs” to make schools green areas – free of the virus.
She added she appreciated many people had visited schools in the past to offer support services and resources.
Now that such valuable contributions had been made, Motshekga has asked “with humility” for everyone to stay away, except pupils and staff.
She added people who vandalised or robbed schools should not be hurt or killed, saying the public should report cases to the police.
Of the 23,675 schools around the country, Motshekga said 23,100 have been deemed ready to receive pupils.
Of the 575 schools not granted permission to open, 406 are in the Eastern Cape, 100 in Gauteng, 25 in KwaZulu-Natal, 43 in Mpumalanga and three in the Western Cape.
As schools return, Motshekga was also asked about the thorny issue of school fees – and the number of parents who could potentially not pay, due to the economic crisis caused by the national lockdown.
She said: “We have left it to schools. Parents could engage with their school governing bodies to make their case.”