Coronavirus News Africa

Leaked plan: Govt to test thousands of kids for Covid-19 when schools reopen

Phasing in a return of pupils to classes based on which grade they are in will allow schools to become useful points for health workers to conduct screening and testing for Covid-19, while pupils could also be used as proxies to check the prevalence of the virus within their families and homes. 

These are some of the benefits that government believes this process could have, a leaked social impact plan for the phasing out of the lockdown in some strategic social sector areas – which News24 has seen – has revealed. 

The 37-page Powerpoint slide show, which also shows plans for the lockdown and beyond for various sectors, states that the phasing in of the education sector is consistent with international experiences in countries like China, South Korea and Japan. 

By conducting tests and screenings in schools, the target of people being screened and tested before winter could be exceeded, which could help flatten the curve even faster, the plan states. 

The plan argues that this would also assist in getting the school system prepared to deal with coronavirus as the “new normal”. 

READ | A glimpse into education dept’s draft recovery plan – before the extension hit

Once implemented, there would, however, be strict measures and conditions put in place to ensure the virus was contained and not spread.

These measures would include implementing guidelines for social distancing in schools, basic sanitation and hygiene packages for classrooms, and psycho-social support services being for teachers, pupils and non-teaching staff.

“This will also go a long way in accommodating some children of the parents of the sectors which would be allowed to phase-in, and this is also consistent with international experience.

“The Comprehensive Framework for the Curriculum Recovery Plan will be implemented to recover some lost time, especially for approximately 60% learners who don’t have access to ICT,” the plan notes.

Among the short-term action plans -between when schools reopen after lockdown and the end of examinations – is for the sector to implement a comprehensive catch-up programme in the form of 3 000 “camps” (social distancing) for about 400 000 progressed and weaker pupils in Grade 12. 

Teachers would also be provided with content summaries, study guides, lesson plans and revision exercises for camps and catch-up programmes. 

News24 reported on Friday that it has also seen the Department of Basic Education’s draft framework for a curriculum recovery plan after the lockdown, which has revealed scenarios with recommendations including scrapping June examinations and shortening June and September holidays to save the school year. 

The draft plan has revealed that the phased-in resumption of the school year would be from 6 May, according to pupils’ grades. 

According to the plan, Grades 12 and 7 could return on 6 May, followed by Grades 11 and 6 on 20 May.

Grades 10 and 5 then follow on 3 June, Grades 9 and 4 on the 17 June, and Grades 8 and 3 on 1 July – while Grades 1, 2 and R would return on 8 and 15 July.

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