The Democratic Alliance (DA) has rejected the decision by government to delay the reopening of all public and private schools. Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga earlier announced that the reopening has been pushed back by two weeks to mid-February.
Both public and private schools reopening will be delayed by two weeks:
Deputy Basic Education Minister Regina Mhaule said this is to avoid further burdening health facilities following the second wave of COVID-19. She said the new date will be dependent on the calendar.
“The new date will vary depending on the calendar, they follow for public schools and private schools which follow the same calendar changes. School management teams will report for duty on Monday 25 January 2021, teachers shall follow Monday 1 February, learners return on Monday 15 February.”
Department of Basic Education answers questions on delayed reopening of schools:
In a statement, the DA says it is concerned about the impact the halting of schools will have on learners.
“The DA is concerned about the impact that this delay could have on the psychological and academic development of learners. The year was already set to start quite late and a further delay could cost learners dearly, with no plan to recover the lost time in learning.”
The official opposition party says that instead of halting schooling for two weeks, the Department should have better equipped them with proper resources to keep learners and teachers safe.
The DA has reiterated its call on the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education to be briefed by health experts, the Ministerial Advisory Committee and the Departments of Basic Education and Health to ensure that the delay of the reopening of schools is based on empirical proof and not what it terms “political whim.”
Implications of Basic Education delaying the 2021 academic year:
The DA says DBE should communicate new regulations as a matter of urgency so that schools can have enough time to comply. The party says the regulations must stipulate the following conditions:
- Proper implementation of social distancing protocols at schools.
- Access to clean water, proper sanitation and safe PPEs.
- An emergency health plan at all schools to respond to positive cases.
- Clear plans to continue schooling for teachers or learners who suffer from comorbidities.
The party says schools that fail to adhere to the above-mentioned conditions should not be reopened.