Covid-19: Modified guidelines for schools announced

The pressure group Equal Education welcomed the amended Covid-19 regulations announced by the Department of Education on Tuesday.

The new regulations announced by the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, on the reopening of schools and the measures to be taken to curb the spread of Covid-19 replace all previous provisions.

Earlier this month, Equal Education and SECTION27, in a letter to Motshekga and her department, expressed concern about the legality and constitutionality of certain provisions in the original regulations. After discussions with the department, several changes were made by the pressure groups’ proposals to the department.

While the responsibility for meeting the minimum requirements rests largely with schools, there was no indication in the regulations about who is responsible if a school does not meet the conditions, the organizations said.

The regulations now stipulate that in such a case, the school, in collaboration with the department, must draw up a plan to ensure that all conditions are met.

The head of the provincial education department should henceforth monitor the gradual return of learners to schools and every two weeks feedback should be given to the department on the number of Covid-19 cases at a school, any failure to comply with measures, and whether the school may reopen.

Changes have also been made to the teaching of children who do not attend school. The amended regulations now make it clear that the head of the department has a responsibility to make arrangements with the school to ensure that learners who cannot attend classes are still taken into account. This includes learners who have to stay home due to illness.

The requirement that all learners must have permits was repealed in the new regulations. Only learners traveling between provinces need a permit in the future.

“It follows from our concern that the terms are irrational, unfair and unconstitutional,” Equal Education and SECTION27 said.

The amended regulations also provide that the Minister, together with her counterpart at health, must periodically review the Education Department’s measures so that it is in line with current best practices.

The organizations say they are disappointed that there is still no obligation on the state to provide at least two material masks to each learner.

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