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Directions on Reopening of Schools Amended

September 18, 2020

Department of Basic Education

Directions on reopening of schools have been amended.

The basic education department published the amended Directions in Government Gazette 43715 in terms of Disaster Management Act Regulations.

A new definition on ‘DBE Standard Operating Procedure’ is inserted into Direction 1.

It means the “Department of Basic Education Standard Operating Procedure for the Prevention, Containment and Management of COVID-19 in Schools and School Communities”.

A link to the department website is provided.

The heading “Learners with special education needs” is inserted into Direction 8.

A new sub-direction (8) outlines steps to be followed where a learner with special education needs does not return to school.

Amendments to Direction 9 focus on implications for hostels if they are found not to have complied with the measures and requirements.

A new sub-direction (1) in Direction 15 stipulates that “every school, hostel or office must comply with the social distancing requirements as prescribed in the Regulations, DBE Standard Operating Procedures and DBE Guidelines”.

Other amendments to Direction 15 stipulate that schools with large enough facilities to comply with health, safety, and social distancing requirements do not have to change their traditional and daily timetable models, and may continue to operate in accordance with the timetable models, and a school that has a large enough facility may accommodate more than 50 learners, officials and parents in that facility at a time, strictly for educational purposes.

The amended Directions came into effect on the date of publication.

Meanwhile, in a speech at the Official Handover of COVID-19 Essentials donated by the Embassy of China in South Africa at the end of last week, the basic education minister, Angie Motshekga, declared that the department will “continue to conduct wide-scale monitoring of schools to ensure that precautions and safety measures against the COVID-19 pandemic are maintained at optimal levels”.

The People’s Republic of China contributed water tanks, masks and thermometers to support the phased-in-reopening of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The minister also emphasized that, if the department gets the monitoring right, it will “serve as an early warning system to beef up immediately where there are apparent shortages”.

The minister pointed out that South Africa’s task now is to mobilise society for the “behavioural change needed as we ramp up non-pharmaceutical interventions as a new way to coexist with the virus”.