South Africa will go ahead with its plan to reopen schools for pupils of certain grades on Monday after a suspension of more than two months, a minister said Sunday amid a continued surge in COVID-19 cases.
“We can now say with confidence that about 95 percent of our schools have been ably provided with the COVID-19 related imperatives” for reopening, Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga said.
The Department of Education had originally planned to reopen schools on June 1, but postponed the reopening to June 8 after finding out that most schools required more time to be prepared for resumption in order to comply with the health, safety and social distancing measures.
The resumption of schooling on Monday “is now more possible than a week ago,” the minister said.
The education sector, with the assistance of its partners, will strive to deal with the remaining 5 percent to ensure that the unfettered rights to health, safety and basic education for all South African children are protected, she said.
The golden rule is that no school will resume if it is not ready, Motshekga said.
Where practicably possible, learners from the “not-so-ready schools” will be moved to neighboring schools that meet the various requirements, she said.
The announcement came as the country recorded 2,312 new cases in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 48,285.
The total number of deaths reached 998, up by 45 from Saturday, according to the latest official figures.
In apparent reference to concerns over school reopening, Motshekga said that the national lockdown was not introduced to grind life in general to a sudden halt, but to reduce the rate of infections.
“We have done and will continue to do our level best to ensure that our schools are safe. All of us are therefore called to do whatever we are expected to do, to ensure that our school communities and spaces do not become the new hotspots for the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.