Grade 1 and Grade 2 learners can return to school on July 6. This according to amended regulations published in the Government Gazette on June 1. The initial regulations did not mention when these learners may return to school but did set the dates for other grades.
Initially, schools were set for June 1 for Grade 7 and Grade 12 learners reopened, but the education department moved that date at the last minute a week later. However, the amended regulations still indicate that these learners may return to school on 1 June. Therefore, legal experts say, schools are free to reopen if they comply with all the necessary health and safety measures.
The latest version of the regulations also stipulates that other grades may start school earlier at a particular school, provided that the school complies with all health and safety measures, as set out in the regulations. Such a school must send an application form to the head of the relevant provincial education department, which must approve the decision.
The regulations further stipulate that aftercare centers attached to schools may also open, provided they comply with the above measures.
Solidarity and the School Support Center (SOS) welcomed these amendments.
“Schools that are ready to open – can now open. Unfortunately, Minister Angie Motshekga creates uncertainty through last-minute media statements that contravene official directives, ”said Dr. Dirk Hermann, chief executive of Solidarity, said.
Learners must be able to learn in a healthy environment and teachers in a healthy environment. Schools that have put in place all the necessary measures should be encouraged to open. ”
He says the uncertainty about schools amounts to a political tug-of-war between unions and organizations involved in discussions with the minister. “Ultimately, our children suffer. They have a constitutional right to be at school, ”Hermann added.
“If further efforts are made to stop the immediate resumption of teaching at schools that can open, a court application will be launched to ensure that learners’ right to education is protected,” says Melanie Buys, head of development at the SOS.