Confusion reigns over mixed messages about reopening of schools

Confusion reigns over mixed messages about reopening of schools

- The Department of Education has sent out mixed messages about when schools would reopen

- This has confused the public and left people unsure what the future holds for their children's education

- Cabinet will make a final decision on when schools would reopen

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Mixed messages from the top echelons of the Department of Basic Education has left South Africans scratching their heads over the reopening of schools.

In order for schools to reopen a number of challenges need to be overcome such as sufficient supplies of hand sanitiser, masks and the basics such as running water need to be in place before schools can open safely.

Teachers with underlying health conditions also need to be catered for and extra classrooms for social distancing are required.

Some private schools have developed their own safety plans with different days for different grades and electronic screening processes. learned that the education department has gone back and forth this week, debating over a date for schools to reopen and the requisition of masks according to Times Live.

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Initially, Mathanzima Mweli floated the idea of grades 7 and 12 resuming lessons on the 6th of May but within an hour deputy minister Reginah Mhaule said that 18 May was the date schools were to reopen according to IOL.

Angie Motshekga stated on Thursday that 1 June would see schools reopen for the two grades. Mweli said on Wednesday that face masks would only be provided to the poorer schools (quintile 1-3) and quintile 4. A day later Motshekga said different and that all schools would get facemasks.

Basil Manuel, executive director of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA bemoaned the manner in which information has been made available to the public.

“A great pity that the parliamentary briefing was broadcast to the nation when everybody was on tenterhooks. The authorities, the director-general, didn’t read the mood of the nation. It caused a lot of mayhem and anxiety.”

Motshekga said that her presentation was a consulting document and not a firm decision.

“A decision about what is going to happen finally is going to come from cabinet. We are having a document through which we are consulting and getting people’s views.”
She said: “We want to intensify our communication so we don’t find ourselves misunderstood, misquoted or misread. We had poorly communicated in the past few days.”

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