Public and private schools finally reopened yesterday for grade 11 and 12 learners as part of a phased return to the classroom after weeks of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The executive director in the ministry of education, Sanet Steenkamp has pronounced herself on schools that resumed face-to-face learning and teaching in terms of social distancing and other health protocols.
Steenkamp commended all education staff, principals, and teachers for ensuring that the state of emergency regulations, are being adhered to at all schools.
The executive director said as the nation enters the new phase with a sense of excitement, anticipation, and a certain level of anxiety, she gave the assurance that government values all teaching and auxiliary staff at the different schools.
“As we embrace this new normal, in times of Covid-19, resuming face-to-face classes with our grade 11 and 12 learners, the executive team in the ministry salutes you and thank you for embracing this opportunity, to once again, share the joy of teaching and learning with your learners. We count on you to do the right thing. We believe in you,” she said.
New Era visited some schools in Windhoek where security guards and institutional workers as early as 07h00 had already started checking on the learners’ temperatures as well as sanitising learners before allowing them to enter school.
Augustineum Secondary School principal Rudolf Matengu said the school procured 61 face masks and 61 hand sanitisers for its staff members.
The school also made provision of seven tippy-taps, specifically installed for drinking water and for the purpose of handwashing.
“Learners are urged to come with empty water containers for the usage of drinking water at school. Masks are available for all learners and staff members. Learners will be stationed in their classes throughout and teachers will rotate within the allocated class teaching venues. During break time, learners will only be allowed to be in front of the teaching blocks or teaching venue. They will not be allowed to scatter around the school ground,” Matengu said.
Windhoek High School principal Willem Hendrik Engels said they started on a smooth slate, and all health protocols have been adhered to.
Learners are divided into smaller groups where they use the school hall with face masks on, while their body temperature is also recorded.
Equally, he noted that all the grade 11 and 12 learners have returned and are adhering to social distancing and hand sanitising.
Jan Möhr Secondary School Lukas Hashiti said they are also making use of the school hall to conform to social distancing measures.
All learners have their temperature checked and are also sanitised before entry.
Learners who reported for school are being provided with face masks.
Steenkamp urged teaching staff to continue and build enduring relationships with each other and parents that they will purposefully work towards elevated levels of trust, hope, positive emotions, and optimism.
“Your health and wellbeing and that of the learners are of crucial importance to all of us and we wish you a space of great care, light, and peace. Remember that at the beginning of the year, we pledged a clear sense of purpose, dedicating this year to making meaningful impacts. Let’s do so,” she stressed.
Phase 2 will see the resumption of pre-primary to grade 3 from 22 June until December 2020.
Thereafter, grade 7 and 9 will resume in phase 3, starting 6 July until 18 December. Phase 4 will then follow with the resumption of grades 4, 5, 6, 8, and 10 where learners are expected to start face-to-face classes on 20 July.
In Kavango East, the Rundu Secondary School, which has a combined learner population of 781 in grade 11 and 12, said it would find it extremely difficult to accommodate all learners and still conform to social distancing measures once the other grades resume face-to-face classes.
At the moment, the 33 classes have been organised for the 781 learners in grade 11 and 12.
“We have 650 grade 10 learners and it will be disastrous when they resume classes since we have to practice social distancing. There is a lack of classrooms,” said school principal Loraine Kruse.
At the Dr Romanus Kampungu Secondary School, learners were oriented on the Covid-19 guidelines and given two masks each.
“We screened them and took them through the guidelines on what is expected of them. We have put measures in place and every class has hand sanitiser and a hand washing spot before entering class,” said the school’s principal Thomas Zokka. “In total, we have 435 grade 11 and 12 learners that will be taught in 10 classrooms,” Zokka added.
At Elias Neromba Secondary School, teachers whose learners are yet to resume face-to-face learning, have been roped in to help with the supervision to ensure learners conform to health measures in place.