‘No disruptions’ as Grade 12s return to classroom
Provincial department says further analysis of attendance figures will be be undertaken
THE Western Cape Education Department (WCED) described the return to class of Grade 12 pupils yesterday as an overall success, despite the chaos and confusion ahead of the gazetting of the new 2020 school calendar.
Spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said no disruptions had been reported and “further analysis of attendance figures will be done”.
Hammond said the department has asked schools to ensure that Grade 12 pupils attended school every day so that the days remaining before their National Senior Certificate exams were utilised fully.
“Our Grade 12s need encouragement and motivation and safe spaces for revision and learning,” she said.
“We are especially protective over ensuring that our Grade 12s get full tuition and support and ask that communities help us to ensure that their schools are not disrupted.”
Kwanda Chonco, a teacher at Inkwenkwezi High School in Dunoon, said it was important for him to be at school, “especially in ensuring that Grade 12 pupils’ future plans are not disrupted”.
Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said the Department of Basic Education (DBE) had gazetted instructions outlining the phasing in of grades over the next month.
Schäfer said after President Cyril Ramaphosa made a series of announcements regarding schools in his address to the nation, over a week ago, an absence of legislation had left provincial departments, schools, staff and pupils uncertain as to how to proceed.
“While the DBE released a new school calendar on Saturday, this was not gazetted and was unfortunately silent on the phasing in of grades this month,” she said.
Schäfer said that had put schools in the difficult position of not knowing whether to follow the new calendar, or the president’s speech – neither of which had any legal effect without gazetted directions.
ANC deputy chief whip in the provincial legislature and education spokesperson Khalid Sayed said they hoped the break was utilised by schools and that the WCED had improved on health and safety measures. “As the ANC we will closely monitor that schools were topped up with sufficient personal protective equipment and sanitisers, and that mechanisms are in place to ensure that Covid-19 cases at schools are handled more consistently, with caution and with a quicker turnaround time,” Sayed said.
Schäfer said it was noteworthy that despite Ramaphosa announcing that the school year would be extended to 2021, “this is not the case in the new school calendar. According to the new calendar, schools will close on December 15”.
“Another change that must be noted is that Grade 7s will return on August 11, not the 12th. Any staff members that have not been required to return with the grade 12s and 7s must return to school on August 17,” she said.