When Grade 7 and 12 learners return to schools on the proposed date of 1 June 2020, school as they knew it, will be a thing of the past.
As government sets out to curb the spread of the Coronavirus, school grounds and hallways will look very different, with learners donning compulsory face masks and gloves. Sanitiser will also be a common feature on school premises, under the guidelines proposed by the Department of Basic Education for the reopening of schools.
If given the nod by Cabinet, from the 1 June 2020, schools will reopen – subject to compliance with health and safety measures and the department’s guidelines for schools on maintaining hygiene during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the proposed guidelines, schools must meet the requirements of proper sanitation, use and provision of personal protective equipment, sanitisers, hand washing soap, gloves, cloth masks and thermometers.
In line with the guidelines, returning educators and learners – starting with Grades 7 and 12 – will be screened upon the reopening of schools. Temperature checks will be administered and learners or staff members, who present with raised temperatures, will then be considered for isolation and testing.
To ensure the health and safety of learners and teachers, schools will be furnished with a Standard Operating Procedures Booklet, as a guide to be used in all schools.
Measures contained in the booklet will include plans for social distancing, where no more than two learners may share a desk, with no hugging or handshaking.
Under the guidelines, learners and teachers will be expected to wear cloth masks at all times.
All sports matches, choral practices and festivals, eisteddfods will be prohibited.
Extra classes should be arranged in small groups that maintain social distancing.
Infrastructure and furniture
Schools will be expected to sanitise classrooms prior to the start of each school day.
Learners will have to sanitise their hands before entering classrooms.
Movement of learners between classes will also be limited.
Working with the Department of Transport, vehicles that transport children will undergo sanitisation prior to the start of all trips.
Everyone entering will also be expected to wear a mask and sanitise their hands before entering the vehicle.
Distance between learners in the buses has also been proposed as a measure.
As government prepares for the reopening, provincial education departments have identified 3 500 schools with critical water supply challenges.
These schools are spread all over the country, except for the Western Cape. The highest numbers of these schools are in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.
The Department of Water and Sanitation has initiated an Emergency Water Supply programme, through which water tanks will be installed at critical supply points; and portable water will be delivered to these tanks, using water trucks.
The DBE will participate in this initiative to get water tanks installed at the identified schools, and to get portable water delivered to these tanks.