Schools have a choice of five models when millions of pupils return to the classroom on Monday, which involves taking turns to attend school.
It is also recommended that the matric exam be postponed so that pupils complete the final paper three days before Christmas.
Mathanzima Mweli, director general of basic education, said at a session of Parliament’s two committees on education on Tuesday that the models in question would help schools meet the requirement to run at half their capacity.
According to the Government Gazette, pupils in Gr. R, 1, 2, 3, 6, 10, and 11 return to school on July 6, but Mweli says that plan could be adjusted if there were changes in the Covid-19 infection patterns.
“When the infections in communities increase, it can spill over to schools. We also need to help prevent the health system from becoming overwhelmed, ”he says.
Mweli concedes that the department is facing new challenges due to the models because it requires more teachers to apply. This while the department received thousands of applications from teachers with underlying illnesses to work from home.
“We found out that schooling doesn’t work from home.
“Pupils cannot attend school and then there is no teacher who can offer the subject,” says Mweli.
He says the department wants to get trial students and relay teachers registered on the education department’s database because of staff shortages.
Mweli expanded on just three of the five models presented at the session.
The three models he mentioned are:
• A fortnightly model according to which certain grades go to school one week and do school work the next week from home. Matric pupils go to school every day.
• A rotating model whereby certain grades go to school one day and stay home the next day. Matric pupils go to school every day.
• A “Peloton” system whereby certain classes are offered in the morning and other classes in the afternoon.
Depending on schools’ unique challenges, they may choose the option that suits them best.
Mweli says in cases where schools still have too little space to comply with health measures, schools will arrange classes in community halls and churches. The education department also plans to set up additional mobile classrooms at some schools.
In the case of school hostels, no exceptions can be made. Residences must ensure that a healthy distance of 1.5 m is maintained at all times.
He said the education department was busy providing protective equipment for the second group of returning pupils. The equipment is stored in warehouses.
Meanwhile, Randwater, which signed a memorandum with the Department of Water and Sanitation to supply water to schools, is still setting up temporary water tanks at schools that do not have adequate access to water.
Mweli says municipalities will simply have to help provide water to schools, although he realizes there are municipalities that are bankrupt.