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Schools only closed in locked down areas

2021-06-17  Albertina Nakale

Schools only closed in locked down areas
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The education ministry yesterday clarified that the suspension of face-to-face teaching and learning as from today until 30 June is only applicable to three heavily affected localities, namely Windhoek, Rehoboth and Okahandja. 

President Hage Geingob on Tuesday announced new measures and revised regulations, including the suspension of face-to-face learning and teaching in Windhoek, Rehoboth and Okahandja, after declaring the three localities as Covid-19 hotspots.

Windhoek alone recorded 52% of total cases in Namibia, and is currently the epicentre for Covid-19. Therefore, exit and entry into these areas is now restricted to contain the further spread of the virus.

Education executive director Sanet Steenkamp yesterday said this means that the rest of the schools in Namibia will remain open.

“The rest of the schools in Namibia will continue face-to-face learning and teaching until the winter holiday. We will continue to monitor Covid-19
cases in schools, and we will treat them case by case, as we have been doing,” she explained. The winter school holiday will commence on 25 June. 

Therefore, the ministry directed that learners and teachers in the three localities should remain at home until the end of the holiday on 26 July 2021.

Pre-primary to grade 9 learners and various phases of schools for intellectually impaired learners in the Windhoek, Rehoboth and Okahandja local authority areas are reminded that education should continue until the commencement of the winter school holiday. 

This will be done through the provision of take-home materials or online approaches, as may be deemed fit.

In a circular on school operations amidst Covid-19 for the remainder of the 2021 school year, learners in hostels with confirmed Covid-19 cases are advised to remain in the hostels until the health ministry clears them to go home, as per the established protocols.

 Equally, face-to-face teaching and learning is also suspended as from today (17 June) until 30 June 2021 for grades 10, 11 and Advanced Subsidiary (AS) learners, while teachers should return to school on 1 July for the resumption of face-to-face teaching and learning in those three localities.

She warned schools not to compel parents to have their children tested before they return to schools.

The education ministry, in conjunction with the health ministry, will undertake the appropriate measures, which may include mass testing, upon return to schools.

To compensate for time lost during the holiday, the holiday periods in the third trimester will be shortened.

Schools will get a mid-term break from 25 to 30 August, and will also be closed on 4 and 5 October.

The last day of the school year will be on 9 December 2021 for both teachers and learners. In cases where schools have Covid-19 infections or outbreaks prior to the commencement of the winter school holiday, Steenkamp said they are required to follow all the existing protocols in consultation with the health ministry, including the complete closure of a school for the period as prescribed.

Those learners who are residing in hostels should then remain there for the duration of that period, and will not break for the winter holiday on 25 June.

 They will continue with face-to-face teaching and learning until 13 August 2021, as per the school calendar.

“We hold the holistic health and wellbeing of our teachers in the highest regard. Therefore, teachers who will be on duty for the entire second trimester shall be given time off to rest and recuperate. 

“School management should ensure that from the commencement of the national examinations on 11 October 2021, measures
are in place to provide the required rest period for teachers, while ensuring that education continues in all grades,” Steenkamp stated.

To mitigate Covid-19 community infections among day learners of grades 10, 11 and AS, spaces will be created in available hostels to accommodate day learners as from 27 June 2021 for the rest of the country, while the affected local authorities will be assisted from 1 July 2021.

There will be no assessment at the end of the second term for pre-primary to Grade 9 levels. The school year will thus only have two assessment marks on the end-of-year report card. 

Meanwhile, the ministry of gender equality and child welfare also issued a statement yesterday, saying only early childhood development centres (ECDs) located “within formal school premises will temporarily suspend face-to-face teaching and learning from 17 June. All other ECD centres with stand-alone buildings or structures will continue to operate as normal, unless there are challenges with containing Covid-19 infections.”

2021-06-17  Albertina Nakale

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