What we know about SA’s school re-opening – and how other countries are allowing kids back

Business Insider SA
However, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.
  • South Africa's school will reopen for learners from 1 June.
  • Grades 12 and 7 will return to school first, with other grades being phased in at a later stage.
  • You can choose to home-school your child, but you must register this with the education department.
  • For more stories visit Business Insider South Africa.

South African Grades 7 and 12 will be returning to the classroom on 1 June, as the class of 2020 gets back to the drawing board after two months at home due to South Africa’s unprecedented lockdown to slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country.

Other grades will follow in due course – smaller schools where space is not an issue are also expected to open and a "different" approach will be used for schools who teach children with special needs and learning disabilities.

No decision has yet been taken on Early Childhood Development centres.

Here’s what we know so far:

  • All teachers and principals will be back at school on Monday, 25 May, to prepare for the return of learners and receive personal protective equipment.
  • Schools will be thoroughly cleaned before pupils return.
  • Grades 7 and 12 will return on 1 June and will have the entire school to themselves. What social distancing will look like has yet to be determined.
  • All pupils and staff will be screened daily for elevated temperatures and Covid-19 symptoms.
  • Grades R – 11 will be phased in – this will be announced in due course, and gazetted once approval has been given.
  • You can home-school your child - but must register for this.
  • Or you can apply for your child to repeat the grade.
  • The curriculum will be trimmed and sent to schools for planning purposes – when this will be is not clear. This, however, does not apply to matric students, as “exams have already been set”.
  • Matric students will write the full end-of-year exams, albeit not at the usual time of year. Final dates will be announced in due course.
  • Masks, sanitisers, aprons and sanitation facilities will be distributed to all schools.
  • Wearing masks at school will be compulsory – starting before children board school transport.
  • School transport must adhere to safety protocols – including sanitisation of pupils, physical distancing on school buses and the wearing of masks.
  • Sports and school trips will be prohibited.
  • Plans will be put in place to protect pupils and teachers with comorbidities, such as asthma, diabetes, cardiac and respiratory issues. Guidelines on this have yet to be issued.

Here is how other countries are going about opening schools: 

Coronavirus lockdown measures have partially or fully closed schools for over 90% of the world's student population across 186 countries and territories, according to UNESCO.

Since the start of May, a couple of countries - including Norway, Japan and China - have officially re-opened their schools.

To date, about 40% of Japanese schools have reopened. The Ministry of Health released guidelines for school reopening which include opening windows to ventilate classrooms, maintaining physical distance, checking temperatures daily, and wearing face masks. Photo: The Asahi Shimbun/Getty Images

In Denmark, younger students returned back to class ahead of older pupils. Schools have reopened in Israel for children with special needs, students in first through third grade and juniors and seniors in high school.

Read the full story:  Plastic partitions and temperature checks – see how other countries are opening up their schools

Children in masks and face shields at Claude Debussy college in Angers, western France, on May 18, 2020. DAMIEN MEYER/AFP via Getty Images

Taiwan never officially closed schools but did extend winter break by 10 days in February in order to disinfect education facilities, distribute medical supplies, and implement new procedures for schools with confirmed coronavirus cases.

Taiwanese schools now conduct temperature checks, and some have employed plastic tabletop desk partitions as an added security measure. Photo: Sam Yeh/Getty Images

Countries with open schools have introduced measures including from keeping windows open for ventilation to spacing desks two metres apart.

Teachers take students' temperatures at the door, and some schools have separate rooms for those with high fevers.

In China, some schools have designated rooms for isolating students with fever. Photo: Xinhua News Agency / Contributor / Getty Images

In Denmark and Norway, whenever possible, classes are held outside. Playgrounds and many school libraries are closed.

In Denmark, schools have installed handwashing stations outside of the buildings and students have to wash their hands at least once an hour. In some Scandinavian countries, class sizes have been reduced into two or three smaller groups to prevent transmission.

In France, classes have been capped at 10 students for preschools and 15 students for other age groups.

Teachers are holding some classes outdoors, but playgrounds are closed. Photo: THIBAULT SAVARY / Contributor / Getty Images

Read the full story: Here's how 6 countries are opening up schools again

A study in 15 Australian schools found that children are unlikely to transmit the coronavirus to each other or to adults in the classroom, but France has recorded 70 new cases of Covid-19 in schools that were allowed to reopen last week.

Young people seem to be less vulnerable than older populations to the coronavirus, and tend to experience mild symptoms when they do get it, 

Read the full story here: The most common coronavirus symptoms in children

But doctors in the UK and US have reported a serious new coronavirus-related condition emerging in children, with growing numbers now requiring intensive care. Symptoms of the condition include " toxic shock syndrome and atypical Kawasaki Disease" as well as "abdominal pain and gastrointestinal symptoms."

Read the full story here: Covid-19: The CDC is warning doctors about the mysterious inflammation disease found in children

Compiled by Estrelita Moses

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