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Feelings mixed on opening of schools

Public schools on the West Coast are set to open on Monday 15 February. Learners were to return to school on Wednesday 27 January, but this has changed following concerns over an increase in Covid-19 infections.

Private schools opened their doors on Wednesday 13 January after putting the necessary precautions in place.

Curro Langebaan however announced that school will be opening on Monday 1 February.

Marí Lategan, Marketing and Communications at Curro Holding, says that the opening date does however remain dependent on the current Covid-19 surge across the country. “Online learning will continue for Grade 1 to 12 learners this week and each Curro school will communicate specific details to parents in due course.”

According to Joseph Chigome, spokesperson for the Minister of Social Development, the regulations with regard to the adjusted Level 3 lockdown do not mention the closure of ECD programmes and partial care facilities.

He says the regulations that apply state that all ECD programmes and partial care facilities can open if the owner ensures that they are operating within the Covid-19 health and safety guidelines as published by the Department of Health.

Chigome adds that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has been provided to 1 871 partial care facilities, 267 ECD facilitators from out of centre programmes.

“The cumulative number of PPEs received by PCF and programmes is4 282 for the period ending December 2020,” he said. “This is over and above the support that the department already provides to ECD related services and programmes.”

Mixed feelings are among teachers, parents and learners about the reopening of schools for the new year. According to Felicia Adams, parent to a Grade 6 learner at Jurie Hayes Primary School, it is a 50/50 situation. Adams notes that everyone, both learners and teachers, are susceptible to contracting Covid-19 and many have died due to the virus. She also raises the fact that her child is very active in sport and school, into his books and socialising with his peers and she can see how frustrated it makes him not being able to do what he used to do.

Lena Waterboer, parent of a Grade 8 learner at Weston High School, says the school has placed the necessary precautions in place and that God carried her child throughout last year and He will do it again. She says people should keep the faith, and all things will work out well.

Bronagh Hammond, spokesperson for the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), adds that the department notes the changes made regarding the opening of schools for the 2021 school year.

She said: “There are still some outstanding matters that need further clarity which we hope to receive through the amended directions to be issued by the Department of Basic Education. “These include clarity on the grades returning, the National School Nutrition Programme, comorbidities and others. We await the publishing of these directions which will determine how we move forward as a Province in managing the opening of schools.”

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