Back to school plans ‘flexible’ amid spiralling Covid-19 infections

classroom of children

Grades R, 1, 2, 3, 6, 10 and 11 are set to return to school from July 6. Picture: African News Agency (ANA).

The state of readiness of schools to open for all grades is not cast in stone, the Department of Basic Education said today.

Grades R, 1, 2, 3, 6, 10 and 11 are set to return to school from July 6, but the Department of Basic Education (DBE) said it will remain flexible in its phased approach to the reopening of schools .

The DBE met with Parliament’s Education Committee on Tuesday to discuss the state of readiness of schools, following the phased reopening for grades 7 and 12.


According to the department, there are 775 schools affected by Covid-19 with 523 pupils infected since schools reopened in early June. 

The department also confirmed that 1 169 teachers had contracted the virus, the majority of them in the Western Cape, which accounted for half of the country’s infections.

Director-General of the DBE, Mathanzima Mweli told the Portfolio Committee that it has made no secret of the fact that its plans to reopen schools for all grades are not set in stone.  

“Although we are saying we have planned for 52% of learners to return to schools, we are not fixed on this 52%.

 “We’ve heard that community infections are flaring up and we discussed this last night with unions. We’ve also been discussing it at head-com.

 “We are saying our plan is extremely flexible, we are not just going to push for the 52% to come if we can see that there is danger,” Mweli said.

According to reports, Eastern Cape reported 270 learner infections, while more than 500 Western Cape staff members had tested positive.

Health protocols

The DBE is urging school principals to ensure their schools comply with all health protocols, and to strictly follow them.

“Just like clinics, police stations and other frequently visited places, schools have found themselves also having to close and reopen,” said DBE spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga.

“Principals must take measures to ensure pupils and employees are screened when schools reopen, using the Department of Health’s Covid-19 procedures,” he said.