The Eastern Cape department of education issued a statement on Sunday evening stating special instructions were sent to unprepared schools across the province not to allow pupils aside from Grade 7 and matrics back today.
The statement was issued after a media briefing with minister of basic education Angie Motshekga, in which she outlined the provisions for other grades to return to school.
Education MEC Fundile Gade’s spokesperson, Vuyiseka Mboxela, confirmed that Gade had written to Motshekga requesting “a deviation from the prescribed phasing in of grades as articulated by her since the beginning of July 2020”.
Gade’s request followed consultations with various stakeholders in the province, including the department of health.
“We have to pay attention in particular to the safety of the learners and teachers, the actual quality of teaching and learning, prioritisation of the exit grades, among others.
“Our superintendent general Mr Themba Kojana has issued an Instruction Note 37 that says grades 3, 6,11, Schools of Skill years 2, 3 and other years in the special schools category will only come to school on July 20 2020.
“While we have come to realise that Covid-19 is not just a matter of the department of health but requires our collective wisdom as the entire government of the EC, the recent developments of infections of our teachers, non-teaching staff and learners requires critical thinking and a detour from those bestowed with a responsibility to lead the populace of this province,” Gade said.
Gade said advice received from the department of health was that the provincial department of education would need to continue to take tactical detours on decisions to ensure the safety of teaching staff and pupils.
Mboxela confirmed to The Herald on Monday that the instructions sent out by the provincial department did not bar schools from reopening to other grades but allowed those that did not have the necessary protective provisions in place to do so.
“If the necessary provisions at some schools were not yet in place we are giving them until July 20,” Mboxela said.
If schools met the guidelines and provisions then the schools could accept pupils from other grades with out any major backlash from the department, Mboxela said.