NATIONAL NEWS - The department of basic education has confirmed that schools across the nation will officially close today in terms of the cabinet decision taken on Sunday. However, teachers are expected to continue to work until Friday, 20 March 2020.
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga and all MECs of education concurred on Monday that in view of the situation caused by the coronavirus outbreak, schools needed to go on an early recess as from today, 18 March.
The Council of Education Ministers (CEM) instructed heads of education departments to develop an implementation plan that would include a curriculum catch up plan. In order to achieve this objective, teachers would have to work as normal in terms of the approved school calendar.
The Heads of Education Department Committee (Hedcom) also met to process the directive of the process and to agree on a uniform implementation of the drastic measures announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa. It was also agreed that staff would be staying until Friday to finalise the administration. Hedcom will communicate the CEM decision to all schools and stakeholders.
Mathanzima Mweli, the director-general of the department of basic education said: “Heads of Education discussed the implications of the Cabinet decision and agreed that the best way forward is to send learners home from 18 March and allow teachers the space needed to plan for the reopening of schools which is scheduled for 14 April.
"We are grateful that our teachers have heeded the call because they understand the circumstances we are working under and that the curriculum implementation remains our priority.”
He said the department would support provinces in ensuring that the CEM directive is implemented and that a comprehensive recovery plan was put in place to mitigate against the 10 days that would be lost as a result of the early closure of schools.
Motshekga has also noted questions regarding learners benefiting from the school nutrition programme and the plans during school closures.
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“The concern is valid, however, schools were due to close anyway on Friday so parents and guardians were always going to continue with their responsibilities over their children. The nutrition programme provides meals to learners in school. We are working on revising the school calendar to ensure that the 10 days are recovered so that nobody is compromised in any way,” said Motshekga.
She repeated her appeal to parents to keep their children at home and to support them with school work during the long period of school closures.
All schools, including early childhood centres, private and public as well as boarding and special schools are affected by the cabinet decision.
The department will continue to monitor the situation and advise accordingly should there be new developments on the matter of the coronavirus outbreak.
(Compiled by Kaunda Selisho)