SCHOOLS in Namibia will reopen on the 26th of January and not next week as was originally scheduled.
The Minister of Education, Arts and Culture, Esther Anna Nghipondoka in a statement said the decision was taken after in-depth consultations with key role players in education, health, and the various teachers’ unions with regard to the current rampant spread of COVID-19.
According to the ministerial statement, teachers will now return to schools on 14 January, while learners from Pre-Primary to Grade 11 will return to school on 26 January. Institutions that accommodate advanced subsidiary learners will re-open on 16 February.
“Last year was a difficult year for all in the education fraternity and we wish to thank all the stakeholders for their support in the successful completion of the 2020 school year. We have seen great resilience from our regional offices, teachers, learners, and parents in dealing with the challenges that they were faced with. Our education sector has gained valuable experience and a better understanding in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and we enter 2021 with the requisite skills and knowledge to cope with the new complexities,” the minister stated.
According to Nghipondoka, the various regulations issued on COVID-19 by the Ministry of Health and Social Services regarding physical distancing, wearing of masks, and sanitising were considered during the consultation process and the Ministry of Education, Arts, and Culture has put various mechanisms in place to ensure the implementation in schools and school preparedness as per the various formal Education Circulars that were issued in 2020 to schools.
The education minister referred to Formal Education Circular 7 – Compliance standards for operations of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic – and said school management will be again expected to evaluate their preparedness for the return of all learners on the proposed dates.
Nghipondoka said all schools must meet the key conditions that are mandatory pre-requisites for the re-opening of schools.
“Also schools are expected to communicate to the parents as to what teaching and learning mode they will make use of, either platooning, where different groups of learners and teachers attend morning and afternoon classes, time-based cohorts where various groups of learners of different grades attend class on alternating days, distributed groups where all learners return but classes are broken into smaller groups that learn in different locations at different times, or a combination of these, in the implementation of the curriculum,” she stated.
Nghipondoka requested all Regional Education Directors to ensure that schools are supported in the process of re-opening.
She pointed out that parents will be responsible for ensuring that each learner is provided with a facemask and that the children have the correct information on wearing their masks.