• July 10th, 2020

Voluntary return to school … as Govt moves reopening of lower grades to 6 July

Parents will not be forced to send their children to school for face-to-face classes, President Hage Geingob announced yesterday. Many learners have not returned to the classroom since the Covid-19 outbreak in March this year. 
Addressing the nation yesterday, Geingob said schooling would be on a voluntary basis, while parents and guardians who feel the school is not a safe environment for their children are welcome to opt for home schooling. 

“I emphasise that the return of learners to class is voluntary. Parents may decide to keep their children home and assume responsibility for home schooling. Our schools should therefore not employ coercive or punitive measures against parents who decide not to initially resume face-to-face instruction,” the head of state said yesterday while giving an update on the national migration from stage 3 to stage 4. 
Since the closure of schools, many learners have struggled to access online learning. There have been calls to suspend, with immediate effect, face-to-face classes for all grades after a Mariental Secondary School learner tested positive for coronavirus last week. 
Confirmed cases in the country have since spiked to 63 after eight new infections were reported yesterday. 
Geingob said the resumption of pre-primary and lower primary (grades 0 to 3), which was due to start face-to-face classes yesterday, has been deferred for a period of two weeks across all 14 regions, until 6 July.  

However, grade 11 and 12 learners will have to continue attending classes. Geingob said schools across the Erongo region that meet the Covid-19 compliance standards may also resume face-to-face instruction for grades 11 and 12. But for Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Arandis local authority areas, the resumption of grades 11, 12, and pre-primary (grades 0 to 3) remains suspended for the next 14 days. 
According to the President, face-to-face instruction would be determined pending observation of the unfolding situation in those towns, adding that the education ministry will provide an updated schedule to the public.  
Grade 7 and 9 learners are expected to resume face-to-face teaching on 20 July, while grades 4, 5, 6, 8, and 10 are expected to return to the classroom on 3 August. 

In the event a pupil or staff member presents Covid-19 related symptoms or tests positive, the school will be suspended for a period of 14 days and traced contacts will be placed under quarantine.  
Geingob reassured parents and guardians who he said are understandably anxious about the decision to send their children back to school during a time of great uncertainty. “According to the evidence before us, the consequences of not resuming learning following a long disruption to the academic calendar can have lasting and undesirable consequences on the academic progression of our children,” he noted.
Equally, he promised that the government will continue to strengthen public health response measures through surveillance, testing, contact tracing and isolation of confirmed cases and by intensifying public education. 

Thirteen regions, except Erongo, are due to migrate from stage 3 to stage 4 on 30 June to 17 September 2020 for a 10-week period. 
“As I have repeatedly stated on a number of occasions, the lives of Namibians are our greatest priority. However, in our quest to protect lives today and tomorrow, we must safeguard our economy by mitigating the negative impacts of Covid-19 related restrictions. It is for these reasons, under stage four, that measures have been further relaxed to facilitate social and economic activities,” said Geingob.
– anakale@nepc.com.na

Photo: Emmency Nuukala 


Albertina Nakale
2020-06-23 12:33:39 | 17 days ago

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