Western Cape schools are ready to receive learners on Monday
The Western Cape is looking forward to welcoming our learners back to school on Monday!
Our staff have been back at school for much longer than is usual for the beginning of the school year, so they have had extra time to prepare for the arrival of learners and put plans in place to cope with any further disruptions to schools. I would like to thank them for the positive and productive manner in which they have come back to school, and wish them the very best for the year.
The safety of our staff and learners remains our priority as we start the school year. The same safety protocols that were implemented last year will remain in place this year, because our data has shown that these protocols work well to stop the spread of the virus. This may mean that some grades will still need to rotate timetables, with the exception of our matrics, who will again receive priority this year and attend every day. I am aware that the rotational timetables are difficult for parents who are trying to work, but we need to ensure that we comply with the distancing requirements in the interests of safety.
The golden rules for preventing Covid-19 infection – wearing masks, physical distancing, and hand hygiene – should not just be followed when children are at school. Learners and parents must continue to practice these wherever they go, to stop the spread and keep one another safe.
Our district offices are closely monitoring the availability of safety and hygiene materials at schools, and any school that is experiencing a problem in this regard should report it to their district immediately, in the event that they are not able to resolve it themselves.
At the same time, our districts and schools have been completing the normal back-to-school processes as they do each year. Top up textbooks were ordered last year and have been delivered to schools. Any maintenance issues that arose during the holidays are being assessed.
The Department of Basic Education has released the full amended school calendar for 2021, so that planning for the rest of the year can be finalised.
Our curriculum advisors have been hard at work with our teachers to ensure successful implementation of the adjusted teaching plans from the national government. Our curriculum team and teachers have held large-scale virtual mediation sessions to ensure that they are familiar with the adjusted plans. We have a lot of catching up to do, and it will take more than one year to do so. We urge communities not to disrupt the re-opening of schools in any way – our learners cannot afford to lose any time to unnecessary disruption.
I am disappointed that we have again had numerous schools fall victim to burglary and vandalism over the holiday period. Our schools simply cannot afford to lose resources at this point in time, and the Department does not have the spare budget to keep replacing stolen or damaged items.
I appeal once again to our school communities to keep a close watch on their schools and to report any suspicious activity to SAPS immediately. We saw just recently in the case of stolen National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) food that quick reporting by a member of the public can lead to a swift arrest and the recovery of stolen goods.
Lastly, we are still struggling to place learners, which is causing parents understandable anxiety. We have steadily reduced the numbers who need placement, and our districts are continuing to do their best to find everyone a space who is entitled to one. I appeal to parents to continue to exercise patience and understand that they will not necessarily be able to find a space in their schools of choice. I also appeal to schools to accommodate as many people as they possibly can.
It is important that we get back to learning as soon as possible. We are doing everything within our power to make that happen.