KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala says the province is ready for the opening of schools on 15 February 2021.
“The main aim is to have the first lesson during the first hour of the first day of school. This calls for readiness in terms of learner admission, availability of physical resources such as classrooms, stationary, textbooks, school furniture, water, sanitation, COVID-19 essentials, learner transport, as well as nutritious food for learners who are beneficiaries of the National School Nutrition Programme,” Zikalala said.
Addressing the media during a virtual briefing on Tuesday, Zikalala reported that out of 2 771 015 learners expected to be admitted, the province had admitted 2 769 212.
In order to assist parents whose children have not yet been admitted, districts have formed admission committees.
While timetable options will not change drastically from last year, the Premier said some schools will need to alternate days in order to accommodate all learners while observing social distancing.
“The timetabling options will include alternating weeks, platooning, alternating days, hybridisation and normal timetabling. The choice of the timetabling option will be determined by the demand for classroom space and the consumption.
“With permission from the Minister of Basic Education, the province will communicate the dates for a staggered return of learners to schools before 15 February 2021,” Zikalala explained.
He said good progress has been made to ensure that all COVID-19 essentials are delivered to schools before the arrival of learners. This includes the provision of water and sanitation facilities.
“There is confirmation that all schools will have required COVID-19 essentials when learners arrive and this will include cloth masks for teachers and learners.”
Filling vacant posts
There has been good progress in the filling of vacant posts created in 2020 due to attrition, retirements, promotions, and even COVID-19 fatalities.
The vacant posts are for teachers, departmental heads, deputy principals, principals, screeners and cleaners.
To strengthen support for school functionality and productivity, Zikalala said office-based posts of circuit managers, curriculum specialists, including teacher development specialists, have been filled.
Delivery of textbooks, schools furniture
The Premier noted good progress in the delivery of schools’ Learning and Teaching Support Material (LTSM), with 100% of all stationery and textbooks already delivered.
As of Tuesday, the province has delivered 96.4% of textbooks, and the remaining 3.6% will be delivered by the end of this week.
“The procurement of braille textbooks has been concluded and deliveries are ready to take place. Orders for “top up school furniture” were completed and 100% of school furniture is in the warehouse ready to be delivered by 15 February 2021,” Zikalala said.
Repair of damaged infrastructure
The repair of some of the schools which were damaged due to vandalism and storms during holidays will take place while schools are in operation, except for schools with severe damage where teaching and learning cannot take place.
“Schools will not run short of water because water tanks were installed in schools where there is no running water. There are 18 455 water tanks across the province,” Zikalala said.
With regards to learner transportation, 85 contracts comprising 495 buses, 19 midi-buses and 212 taxis will be ready to transport 42 000 learners on the first day of school.
“For the purpose of COVID-19 compliant trips, there will be notices displayed in the vehicles about the wearing of masks.
“The Department of Education has made plans to ensure that all contracted dedicated learner transportation vehicles have sanitisers and disinfectants when schools open,” Zikalala said.