Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says that the department is engaging with Cabinet in a bid to reduce social distancing in South African schools, despite the continued pandemic.
Social distancing was introduced when schools started reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but only 60% of city based schools are able to resume teaching at full capacity.
Motshekga is currently touring the country ahead of schools opening for the 2022 academic year and says that discussions with Cabinet will resume soon. However, vaccination drives will be ramped up in lieu of social distancing, explained the Minister.
“In January, schools will have to go back the way they are until such time we announce that they are changes, we are working as the department with our provinces to engage with all the other bodies like the health department to say we need first to reduce the social distancing, but we also need to scale up our vaccination programs,”
Motshekga is adamant that social distancing measures are not sustainable in South African schools.
“There is no way we can continue with this rotation in 2022 and don’t think that we would have permanently destroyed this children’s educational changes. This cohort of this year has had two years of instability and it is a problem.”
With an eye on increasing student vaccinations, Motshekga insists that safety remains a priority despite the call to reduce other preventative measures.
“Fortunately, I was told that we are at 80% which is comfortable, we want to have vaccination of older-younger children just to create the safe space and then we will be able to negotiate with health to say we need to reduce from 1,5 to 0,5 which will give us more space and more leeway so that’s what we plan to do for the first two weeks when cabinet resume.”
Teachers and support staff at inland schools got back to work today and are busy preparing for their learners’ return on Wednesday.