President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday night, that public schools will close for four weeks as new cases of COVID-19 continue their upward trajectory.
Public schools will close their doors from 27 July 2020 and re-open on 24 August 2020.
However, grade 12s and 7s will come to school earlier than the rest of the schooling population. “Cabinet has decided today [Thursday] that all public schools should take a break for the next four weeks,” Ramaphosa said.
“Grade 12 learners and teachers will only take a one-week break, returning to school on 3 August. Grade 7 learners will take a two-week break, returning to school on 10 August.
Specific arrangements will be made for different categories of special schools. As a result of the disruptions caused by the pandemic, the current academic year will be extended beyond the end of 2020,” he added.
The announcement marked a victory for teachers unions. The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) last week called for the closure of schools due to the surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths in the country. Sadtu is the largest trade union for teachers in South Africa.
Ramaphosa said as of Thursday, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases stands at 408,052 with more than 6 000 lives lost to the virus.
Thabang Motloung, secretary-general of the National School Governing Bodies, said the organization welcomed Ramaphosa’s announcement.
“The Department of Basic Education failed to meet it’s own Norms and school infrastructure now Department of Basic Education cannot be trusted to keep our children’s safe when the country still learning about how to handle this pandemic affecting learners,” Motloung said.