Schools will stay in rotational attendance

Springdale Primary School teacher Thandeka Mtsila with her new Grade R class on Tuesday January 18. She said she is very happy to meet her new pupils. There was no crying and they were ready for the day.

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) is prepared and ready for the 2022 school year while pupils are still attending school part-time.

The MEC for Education, Debbie Schäfer, confirmed no changes have been made to the Disaster Management Regulations that affect schools.

Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, passed a regulation in July last year that the social distancing measure in primary schools is “reduced to one metre”, which schools may not legally ignore.

Approximately only 12% of primary schools can comply with these directions. That means that approximately 88% of primary schools are attending school on a rotational basis, despite efforts to revert to full attendance, said Ms Schäfer.

“There has been a huge psychosocial impact on pupils, teachers and even parents. Implementing a rotational model in schools is not easy. It requires dedicated planning and continued pressure to keep up with the curriculum while teaching different cohorts of pupils on different days,” she said.

Ridgeville Primary School twins Nilakhe and Nakhane Siyo were excited for school and came prepared with their ice-cream containers filled with stationery. One could see their smiles through the masks once they entered the class at their Westridge school yesterday, Tuesday January 18.

Ridgeville Primary School principal Anthony Europa told the Plainsman on Tuesday at the Grade R orientation day, they would like to go back to school full-time.

Mom Tracey Arendse and dad Justin Arendse were excited for their little boy, Kyle Arendse, when he started school on Tuesday. He waved his parents goodbye when they left him with his new teacher and classmates at Ridgeville Primary School in Westridge.

“The pupils will benefit from this. Yes, we are concerned about Covid-19, however, we know that the recovery from this is on the rise. We stare adversity in the face and adapt and make it work. This does affect our teachers and the well-being of pupils. It won’t be easy for the education system but it would be better if we could be in school full-time,” said Mr Europa.

New Ridgeville Primary School pupil, Malachi Oliver, was so excited for school he couldn’t sleep, said his dad, Kurt Oliver. He waved his dad goodbye at the gate when he waked to his class on his own on Tuesday January 18.

He said they are looking forward to the year, have plans in place to make their school work and also celebrate their 45th school anniversary. “It will be a special year,” he said.

Meanwhile, the number of unplaced pupils in the province who applied in 2021 has reduced to 469 Grade 1 pupils and 2 620 Grade 8 pupils. This is in comparison to December 2020, when 4 624 Grade 1 pupils were unplaced, and 8 765 Grade 8 pupils were unplaced, said Bronagh Hammond, WCED spokesperson.

While they celebrate a further reduction in numbers, they are also fighting a moving target given that every day, they are receiving more late applications from pupils. Over 32 000 late applications have been received thus far, she said.

Every day, additional parents are contacting the WCED to say that they have not yet applied, which makes planning extremely difficult. “These parents must please be patient as we endeavour to assist them,” she said.

Metro North, South and East remain the biggest challenges in the province, said Ms Hammond.

As a sector, the WCED needs to continue to focus on recovery given the loss of learning time, however, the need to integrate modern technology, knowledge and skills, as well as encourage and promote self-directed learning, has never been more essential, she said.

Ridgeville teacher Rosina Steggie said they’ve stuck to Covid-19 protocols where parents drop their children off at the gate.

“Usually the children would cry with drop-off but not this year, there were no shouts and screams as the children came with a positive attitude. They are champions and we’re looking forward to excellent results,” she said.

Springdale Primary School pupil, Sihlangule Fandesi, building a puzzle. His mom, Letta Francis, said she knew her child would be in good hands and she is looking forward to receiving his first report.
Parents and pupils entering the gate to attend their Grade R and Grade 1 orientation sessions at Springdale Primary School yesterday, Tuesday January 18.

Springdale Primary School teacher Francis Johnson said this is the first year since Covid-19 happened, where parents are allowed to drop their children off at the classroom.

Springdale Primary School pupil, Aliyah Raubach and mom, Janine Raubach. Ms Raubach said her daughter was so excited for school she did not want to eat. “I told her to be herself and listen to her teacher.” Aliyah said she is excited to make new friends.
A few minutes later, little Aliyah missed her mom but the teddy bear next to her kept her company and put her at ease with her teacher helping her through the first day’s woes.

“We are always excited to see new faces, and look forward to a good year,” she said.

On the other hand, the court ruled yesterday, Tuesday January 18 to have the matric 2021 results published on all media platforms.

The matric class of 2021 was subject to Covid-19 for two years.

The pupils will be able to receive results on the morning of Friday January 21 at their schools, on all media platforms or on the Department of Basic Education’s website, said Elijah Mhlanga, the department’s head of communication.

The publication of results will follow 2020, where former pupils will receive results with their exam number.

The Department of Basic Education has received representations from a vast array of organisations and individuals following the decision to stop the practice of publishing National Senior Certificate results on media platforms.

Last week, the DBE announced that results would not be published on all media platforms according to the POPIA (Protection of Personal Information Act).

The DBE was guided by the need to comply with legal obligations but in the final analysis the Constitution commands the DBE to act in the best interest of the pupil, said Mr Mhlanga.

Should a parent not yet have applied for 2022 pupils, they must contact the district office where they reside. The WCED has officials on the ground to assist parents directly and “are managing the situation on a case-by-case basis. We are therefore appealing for parents to not come to the head office,” said Ms Hammond.

“We want to thank parents for their patience during the process and we want to assure them that we are working hard to place pupils,” said Ms Hammond.