As South Africa deals with a second wave of Covid-19 infections, Independent schools, which were scheduled to reopen from January 12 or 13, have postponed their reopening to January 18.
Entry and exit grades will most likely be the first to return to school, should schools be implementing a hybrid model of instruction, Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (ISASA) executive director Lebogang Montjane predicted.
The hybrid model consists of staggering and rotating attendance so that some pupils are on campus, and others continue to receive instruction through electronic platforms.
“ISASA has recommended that members postpone, cancel or adjust any pre-term co-curricular activities due to the high infection rates. We anticipate that orientation sessions that need to go ahead will be held in an adjusted format, taking the health situation in the country and the specific circumstances of each member school into account.
“In fact, ISASA foresees that the entry grades depending on the school (such as Grades 000, 0 and 8), as well as exit grades (such as Grades 7 and 12), will be the first to return to school, should schools be implementing a hybrid model of instruction,” he said.
Earlier in the week, ISASA announced that due to the second wave of the pandemic, the association and member schools had taken the decision, in light of the country being moved to an adjusted Level 3 Lockdown that members should consider delaying the commencement of the academic year.
The new date to reopen is now Monday, January 18.
“This will enable the sector to consider any new regulations, should they be issued by government, before beginning in-person instruction,” Montjane said.
The executive director said even though schools are planning to delay in-person instruction, other member schools would be moving to remote learning platforms.
Meanwhile, the Department of Basic Education has (DBE) maintained that schools would reopen on January 27, as scheduled.
DBE spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said: “Schools must open to protect people. In schools, the wearing of masks is not negotiable. Social distancing is monitored, and sanitising is checked all the time.”
Montjane said ISASA supported the department’s decision.
“Schools should reopen. In the case of independent schools, our members follow an adjusted calendar (but adhere to the minimum number of schools days required per year) to that of public schools and were scheduled to reopen two weeks before their public counterparts. As a result, the infection rates may have declined by the time public schools are due to reopen in the last week of January 2021,” he said.