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SCHOOLS EXPECTED TO OPEN JULY 1, BUT ...

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MBABANE – If government plans fall into place, schools are expected to open on July 1, 2020, beginning with Form Vs.
This was revealed during a meeting of the Ministry of Education and Training Task Team on COVID-19 on Wednesday.


According to minutes shared by the Eswatini Principals Association (EPA), Form Vs are expected to be the first to reopen in the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the country.


Highlights of the meeting were communicated to EPA membership by the President, Welcome Mhlanga. 
Mhlanga said an official statement would be issued by the ministry, adding that he was sending this information to the national executive, informing them of the status quo.


He said he attended the meeting as a member of the inistry’s technical team, on their behalf.
This was reiterated by the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Bertram Stewart, who said the meeting was aimed at exploring what they could do to facilitate the reopening of schools.


Stewart said there was nothing much they could discuss with the public for now as nothing had been approved yet.
In the highlights of the meeting to the membership, Mhlanga noted that a phased approach would be applied in the opening of schools, starting with Form Vs, due to the nature of their examinations. Grade VII and Form III are then expected to follow thereafter. He said the tentative date for phasing in Form Vs was July 1, which was subject to approval by other structures.


Prioritise


It was mentioned that life should continue in amid COVID-19 because no one knew how long it would be around, but it was important to prioritise preventative measures in the schools.


According to the highlights, sub committees have been appointed to look into the protocol of the reopening of schools, transportation issues and the school calendar. Further stated was the issue of examinations timetable, which would be issued once schools had reopened.

Also discussed was the issue of school fees, where it was agreed that parents in public and private schools should pay school and examination fees. Part of the highlights read: “The protocol sub-committee should consider the issue of boarding schools as they have different needs.”


Meanwhile, it was also mentioned that the ministry was working on providing the radio and television lessons to schools on reopening. Head teachers were also encouraged to provide information and data that would be helpful towards the reopening. On the same note, the ministry was applauded for its efforts to provide lessons through different media platforms during the period of the partial lockdown, which was implemented by government in the centre of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Further, it was stated that the Ministry of Health had prepared draft guidelines for reopening of schools.
These guidelines were expected to provide technical support to the Ministry of Education, cognisant of the need to capacitate school leaders and teachers and also supply personal protective equipment (PPE) before and after reopening.


The Ministry of Health is scheduled to hold a meeting on May 27, where education stakeholders are expected to be present, whereby they will be developing a curriculum on the pandemic for reopening of schools. It is this workshop that will provide comprehensive guidelines for the schools reopening.

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