Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Thursday will be visiting schools in the Mangaung area in the Free State to monitor teaching and learning in primary schools.
This week, primary school pupils were allowed to receive pupils from grades R to 7 at full capacity following the recommendations of scientists who advise Cabinet on Covid-related matters.
During her visit to schools in Mangaung, Motshekga will be accompanied by Free State education MEC Tate Makgoe.
“The strategy provides for schools to, where possible, receive all learners at primary-school level as part of a gradual return to traditional timetabling,” the Department of Basic Education (DBE) said in a statement.
0.5m physical distancing
At the same time, the minister’s visit to primary schools coincided with concerns by teacher unions that they were not consulted by the DBE on its proposal to reduce physical distancing in schools.
It emerged this week that the department wanted to approach Cabinet and the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) to reduce social distancing in primary schools from 1m to 0.5m.
Five unions, which include the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) and the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), called for consultations with the DBE on the plan.
They said they had previously warned that “the 1m social distancing is not possible when all primary school learners return to school”.
“The teacher unions further wish to record that we are in favour of a return to normality to ensure that the traditional timetables in schools may be reintroduced, but it cannot be at the expense of compliance with the required health and safety protocols that the Department of Health has insisted on since 26 March 2020,” the unions said in a joint statement.
Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe