On Monday, 23 March 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 21 -day nationwide lockdown – set to begin effectively on midnight of Thursday, 26 March and end on midnight of Thursday, 16 April 2020 – as another stringent measure to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). This unprecedented announcement in a democratic South Africa, in particular, the span of the ban on movement has significant implications for the reopening of schools.

Quite incidentally, the implementation of the lockdown suggests that schools will no longer re-open immediately after the Easter Weekend as it was earlier announced. Notwithstanding this, a new date for the reopening of schools has not been determined yet, but will be circulated in due course. With regard to officials and office-based support staff, it is clear that all are expected to report for work on 17 April 2020.

In the light of the above, officials, principals and teachers are requested to maintain regular contact amongst themselves. To that effect, they should keep all communication channels open with a view to keeping everyone, including the parents, posted on the developments with regard to reopening of schools and further measures to control the spread of COVID-19 in the Department.

I urge all of us to continue demonstrating a collective sense of purpose and responsibility in a combat against COVID-19. As President Ramphosa reiterated on 23 March 2020 “the most effective way to prevent infection is through basic changes in individual behaviour and hygiene: For this, all of us are implored to adhere to the following basic precautions in earnest with a view to flattening the tide of this novel coronavirus outbreak:

• wash hands frequently with soap and water or hand sanitisers for at least 20 seconds,
• cover the mouth when coughing and the nose with a tissue or flexed elbow when sneezing,
• observe recommended social distance, and
• avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms,

Herewith is a copy of Draft Standard operating procedures (SOPs) detailing process that the Department will follow to ensure services and/or products for affected staff and learners are delivered consistently every time.

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Author: tkhechane