South Africa: MEC Debbie Schäfer Welcomes Learners and Staff Back to School for the Third Term

press release

Our schools are looking forward to welcoming learners back to school tomorrow after the extended holiday. I wish our learners and staff a happy and productive start to the third term, and trust that the fact that they have had access to the vaccine will give them a measure of reassurance.

The existing Covid-19 safety protocols for schools will continue to be followed. I am aware that some have been concerned about the implications of the return to normal timetabling in primary and special needs schools. We asked our schools to write to the Head of Department if they will not be able to return to full daily attendance, as well as the reasons for this. The deadline to do so was extended to 23 July 2021, and these applications to continue with rotational timetabling will be processed this week.

I remind our learners, staff and parents that the number of active cases in the province remains high, and that we must follow the golden rules to prevent Covid-19 even when not at school. We are all familiar by now with the importance and effectiveness of physical distancing, wearing masks and washing/sanitising our hands - these should be second nature to us now and going forward.

I also remain concerned about any further disruptions to public transport as a result of taxi violence. I make this personal appeal to those instigating the violence: please stop. Apart from the damage you are doing to our already fragile economy, you will be preventing learners once again from attending school. They have lost out so much over the last year. As it is, it will impact on their future and that of the economy. Any further losses can NOT be afforded. They also need to access the school feeding programme, which many rely on. No doubt some among you have children yourselves, so you know how serious the situation in education is right now. We all need to think of our children's safety and their futures right now, so the violence and disruption needs to stop.

The Minister of Transport and Public Works has announced a route closure between Mbekweni/Paarl and Bellville, affecting the availability of taxi transport in the area, and will announce further details over the weekend as to the alternative transport that will be available. I urge parents and schools to keep up to date with these arrangements and details of any disruptions here: https://www.westerncape.gov.za/tpw/news?keyword=&date=All&category=681

A comprehensive SAPS response is underway in the hotspot areas, which includes support from the SANDF, Metro Police and Traffic Officers. Additional SANDF troops have been requested to provide further support.

Please report any suspicious activities at or near to schools to SAPS or the Safe Schools hotline (0800 45 46 47) immediately. Quick reporting by the public plays a pivotal role in protecting our school properties, learners and staff.

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