Basic education minister Angie Motshekga. Picture: GCIS
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga. Picture: GCIS

The reopening of schools for grade 7s and matrics has been postponed by a week, the basic education department announced on Sunday evening.

The Western Cape, however, has insisted that its schools would start on June 1 (Monday), the government's initial resumption date.

But the national education department insisted a “substantial number of schools” were not ready, saying in some provinces, “personal protective equipment for learners in particular, had not been received; and some schools had not been made ready for the arrival of teachers and learners.”

The national department said the coming week should be used to continue preparations for the opening of schools.

“This whole coming week must be used for the proper orientation and training of teachers, the mopping and ramping of all supply chain matters, and final touches to the readiness of each facility for the arrival of learners.

“The date on which grade 7 and grade 12 learners have to report back to school, is June 8 2020.  

“We have, however, received reports that indicate that some learners in boarding schools have already arrived. We urge the schools to continue with orientation of the learners in terms of the health and safety procedures that should be in place,” the department said in a statement.

The Sunday Times reported on Sunday that the reopening of schools for grade 7s and matrics on Monday was unlikely. This after a marathon meeting between Motshekga, MECs, teachers' unions and governing body associations on Saturday night.

Several sources said Motshekga acknowledged to the five unions and three major governing body associations that met her that “the system is not completely ready”.

The Western Cape education department said it had “pulled out all the stops” to ensure readiness for Monday.

It had spent R280m on personal protective equipment and cleaning materials, including 2.4-million masks.

“Given these preparations, and the enormous effort put in by teachers and non-teaching staff alike, it would be unfair to delay all schools from reopening,” said a statement issued by Western Cape education minister Debbie Schȁfer.

“Our schools are overwhelmingly ready, including schools that serve poor communities.

“We shall accordingly be open for learners tomorrow. The week will be used primarily for the orientation of learners into the new Covid-19 safety and learning environment.”