Angie Motshekga impressed by 98% school attendance

Pupils at Lengau Primary School in Kagiso, Krugersdorp, queue to have their temperature taken. The government made it clear that safety should come first to curb the spread of Covid-19. /Veli Nhlapo
Pupils at Lengau Primary School in Kagiso, Krugersdorp, queue to have their temperature taken. The government made it clear that safety should come first to curb the spread of Covid-19. /Veli Nhlapo

Basic education minister Angie Motshekga says there has been a 98% attendance rate by the first cohort of pupils to return to class as schools reopened for grades 7 and 12.

Motshekga was briefing the National Council of Provinces yesterday on progress made on measures to manage the impact and spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in schools.

"In the past 14 days, we have had 98% of attendance at our schools, which means our parents trust what we are doing and that parents have stepped up to work with us to make sure the children are protected," Motshekga said.

She said when schools reopened earlier this month to the two grades, it was much easier for schools to maintain social distancing.

However, with schools receiving another segment of pupils from next month, it would be more of a challenge.

"Working with provinces and our partners, we are looking at alternative measures to put in place, including rotational teaching where learners would come in the morning and then we clean the place and the next cohort comes two hours later.

"That used to be the norm of platooning. We will go back to the platooning as a result of the challenge."

Motshekga also said the department would not compromise on the ability of grade 12s to finish their curriculum.

"In terms of grade 12, we don't want a class of 2020 whose matric is doubtful. We would rather write later than write less."

She said the final exams for grade 12s have been moved and will start a month later than planned.

"For the internal grades, we have also made sure we trim down the curriculum. We will then link 2020 year to 2021 so that some of the topics will be moved to next year, so that they do not miss anything. That has been developed and finalised."

She said the decision to reopen schools was not taken lightly and the anxieties expressed by parents were understood.

Motshekga said when her department made a request to cabinet to allow for schools to reopen, they made it clear that safety came first.

"We had to take all necessary steps to ensure we take care of our children. For instance, we have made a commitment to provide every child in our schools with two cloth masks for the year."

She said the department had made sure schools were cleaned before the opening.

"We have given instructions that a school cannot be open until it meets the minimum Covid-19 standards, which essentially mean the basic sanitation."

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