Back to school

Education MEC Debbie Schäfer, right, speaks to teachers and pupils at West End Primary School.

On entering school they had to be screened for Covid-19 and adhere to safety controls.

All pupils have to adhere to strict physical distancing, which may require rotating timetables. They have to wear masks, sanitise their hands and surfaces and daily screening.

After visiting West End Primary in Lentegeur, Woodville Primary in Woodlands, Alpine Primary School in Beacon Valley and Lentegeur High, Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said principals were better prepared, because school management teams and teachers had returned well ahead of the official reopening of schools.

West End Primary School pupils follow the cones to meet Covid-19 protocol before entering to learn.

“They reported that staff were looking forward to getting the year under way, and we will do whatever we can to support them to get our pupils back to learning safely,” she said.

Principal William Page checks on Woodville Primary School foundation phase pupils.

Ms Schäfer visited Lentegeur High School and the Beacon Valley primary school to view recently completed infrastructure.

Both schools had fencing installed, while the ablution facilities at Alpine Primary were replaced after being severely damaged by vandals.

“I again urge the public to report any suspicious activity around their school to SAPS so that we do not have to divert budget to fix criminal damage,” she said.

In a provincial media statement Ms Schäfer said there were not enough places at schools to ensure that every pupil was accommodated.

“As happens every year, we have seen a significant increase in the number of pupils seeking a place in the province.

“We have done our best to cater for this increase through opening new schools and classrooms,” she said in a provincial media statement.

She said that the reality was that their budget did not meet the demand for school places in the province.

The department recorded an average of 22 000 extra pupils joining each year.

“We would need to build 22 schools just to keep up, before we even begin to tackle the backlog. This is simply impossible with our current budget,” she said.

Ms Schäfer wished pupils and school staff a happy and productive year despite the ongoing pandemic.

“Our schools have shown over the last year how vitally important they are, and I look forward to seeing the innovative approaches they will use this year as we work together to keep our pupils at school and learning safely,” she said.

Pupils, parents, teachers and the wider school community can also call Safe Schools call centre on 080 045 4647 toll-free to report crime, abuse, and bullying, and for information about a host of social issues.