Basic Education minister Angie Motshekga has said that her department will make changes to South African schools as it continues to grapple with the Covid-19 pandemic. One of these specifically dealing with a review of the social distancing rules in classrooms.
The current rotation system where students alternate days at school, in order to comply with Covid-19 protocols, means that too much learning time is being lost, according to Motshekga.
She says that schools have also had to cut out parts of the curriculum because of the reduced contact time. This means that part of the curriculum will be carried over into 2021.
Minister Motshekga says that her department might adopt the measures of bigger schools who make use of body screens to keep the same number of learners in the classroom.
“We are looking also at other measures. Other big schools for instance are using body screens not distancing because physical distancing is very expensive for us because it means we have to cut classes in half. At a school where DG went in KZN, they are using screens. It is the same class of 35 and they are using screens. You just manage the movement of learners, so which means they able to have a normal timetable which is our biggest challenge now.”
-Angie Motshekga, Basic Education Minister
The National Teachers Union (NATU) finds that the current rotation system compromises the quality of education. It has also emerged that in some schools students only go to school after two weeks.
“Teachers are not happy with the current arrangement of seeing learners once after two weeks of teaching, learners one week and they come back after three weeks. That is definitely compromising the curriculum coverage and is also compromising the quality of learners produced for the next grade. They need to prioritise infrastructure in our schools.”
-Allan Thompson, NATU President
However, the teacher union Naptosa says that the current system just needs to be refined. Naptosa president Basil Manuel says the rotation system is currently the only system that can keep schools safe and cautions schools against bringing students back without having enough space.
“The rotation system is working at the moment but I think we need to refine it and some of the choices we have where some schools have one week on and one week off, we are now learning that that might not be the best idea, but the one-day-on one-day-off is working. Remember we have no choice because of social distancing and COVID-19. I want to caution the schools that want to bring people back even if they don’t have enough space.”
-Basil Manuel, Naptosa President
Outside of the classroom learners are now allowed to partake in certain sporting activities, this comes as a part of the changes brought about by minister Motshekga and her department. In a new gazette published by minister Angie Motshekga, the resumption of some sports at South African schools were given the go ahead.
The directive states that the following activities are permitted to resume, subject to social distancing, hygiene and safety measures and without spectators:
Non-contact sport training;
Inter-school non-contact sport matches;
Non-contact sport-related activities;
Arts and culture school-based activities in schools.
The number of persons in the sporting venues, training area or change rooms, at any given time, must not exceed 50% of the capacity of the venue with all persons observing the social distancing requirements, as well as, wearing masks except athletes participating or training in matches.
Schools that compete in inter-school activities must adhere to the limitation of:
250 persons or fewer, in the case of an indoor activity; and
500 or fewer, in the case of an outdoor activity;
Provided that no more than 50% of the capacity of the venue is used with persons observing the social distancing requirements.
Other regulations include the provision of hand sanitizers, the keeping of a register for all participants and the disinfection and cleaning of all sporting venues.
Find the full Government Gazette here
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