ISASA Media Statement on the Delayed Reopening of Schools
ISASA has been and remains sympathetic to the difficult situation in which our country finds itself: namely of trying to maintain functioning systems and sectors, of which education is but one, and trying to prevent COVID-related deaths.
There can be no question that health and safety are of paramount importance. We have been gratified by government’s consultative approach as well as by their open and gracious inclusion of education stakeholders, such as ISASA and NAISA, in their deliberations. We do feel that a two-week delay, while inconvenient, is not a disruption worse than we as a sector have successfully endured previously in the 2020 academic year.
While we may be tired of this pandemic, it is clearly not yet tired of us. Consequently, we must dig deep into our reserves for patience and resilience once more and deal with another challenging year. We are deeply grateful to the Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Dr Reginah Mhaule for her acknowledgment that precise start dates for the year, even accounting for the two-week delay requested by government, would vary, depending on the different calendars and the start dates initially scheduled for the 2021 academic year.
ISASA and its members are happy to comply with the gazetted regulations that allow independent schools to reopen after a two-week delay from the announcement by the Deputy Minister of Education, which was on 15 January 2021. ISASA member schools are therefore allowed to open from Saturday, 30 January 2021, although most will open from Monday, 1 February 2021. ISASA schools that follow the public school calendar will commence school on 15 February 2021.
It must be noted that all Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centres, both free-standing and attached to larger schools, remain open as per the advice from the Department of Social Development, which governs these centres.
I must take this opportunity to commend our member schools for their tireless work in adjusting to the ever-fluid situation and to their many successes in offering quality teaching and learning in 2020, despite the serious challenges.
Our diverse membership of no-fee to mid and high-fee schools continues to inspire me in how they share resources and best practice advice continually, so as to improve the educational outcomes of all the children in our care.
We will continue to keep our membership apprised of developments and will continue to engage constructively and collegially with our partners in education in the Department of Basic Education.