South Africa: Parents, Teachers Protest Reopening of South African Schools

The reopening of South African schools on Monday was met with protest, as parents, teachers and schools' bodies said the institutions were unprepared to take back students.

In some places, parents arrived with placards outside their school gates, expressing concern about the rush to get children back into classes before it could be "safely" done.

School reopening has now been postponed to June 8.

President Cyril Ramaphosa had earlier announced a gradual reopening of the economy from June 1, with schools and businesses reopening.

The plan had been to recall students in the last years of high school and junior school on June 1, and then gradually allow students in other grades to resume their studies.

But after a weekend of numerous charged meetings with parents' representatives, teachers' bodies and school governing body representatives, Education Minister Angie Motshekga admitted in a press conference that many schools were not ready to take back students on June 1, as she had promised they would be.

It has been "too risky" to allow a return to schoolrooms as planned, she said, announcing the one-week postponement of school reopening.

Her weekend consultations had revealed that schools were between 80 percent to 96 percent ready.

Others educational institutions, mainly independent schools which operate in parallel with state schools but are largely funded by wealthier parents, were ready and did open on Monday.

But most of South Africa's 26,000 school remained closed - except in the Western Cape region, which faced a court challenge.

Meanwhile, many reopened small businesses were dealing with the reality of screening all staff, deep cleaning premises, and convincing customers that they would be safe in their establishments.

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