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Lack of water a concern as schools are set to reopen

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With some learners expected back in the classroom on 1 June, Provincial Government has raised concern that most schools in the province don’t have running water, but subsequently expressed confidence that the crisis will be dealt with before schools reopen for Gr 7 and 12.
Although the initial anxiety was around inadequate Personal Protective Equipment, Premier Chupu Mathabatha’s Spokesperson, Kenny Mathivha indicated that now the concern was around a shortage of running water in most schools in Limpopo.
He reiterated that Provincial Government with the assistance of the Department of Water Affairs will make sure that all the schools have water before 1 June for learners, educators and administration staff to be able to wash their hands as per the health guidelines.
“We all know that Limpopo is a water- scarce province and most schools don’t have water but we are delighted that the Department of Water Affairs has committed that all learning institutions will have water before schools reopen.
“Water will be made available either by water tankers or any other available method but we can assure that all schools will have adequate water. All schools will be provided with enough personal protective equipment. The Provincial Command Council will adopt a report by the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga on reopening of schools once the National Command Council do so,” Mathivha explained and added that the departments of Education, Health and Public Works, and Roads and Infrastructure have been hard at work in ensuring that schools abide by all relevant safety measures.
The Department of Education could not issue information regarding the reopening of schools but Spokesperson, Tidimalo Chuene highlighted that the office will make an announcement in due course.
Briefing the nation on Tuesday evening, Motshekga said the National Coronavirus Command Council and Cabinet had approved the reopening of schools as of 1 June but cautioned that every school must adhere and observe the health and safety protocols.
According to her, the department will start with Gr 7 and 12 and small schools and reiterated that the other grades will follow in due course.
Learners and teachers who are in other provinces will be able to return to their residence, Motshekga outlined.
She went on to clarify that learners, teachers and support staff will receive orientation and training once they are back in school at the beginning of next month.
“During consultations with social partners it became clear that we need a different approach when it comes to special schools. We are working with organisations who are advising us
on the best way forward regarding the phased-approach of the special schools. Provinces have put in place plans that will ensure that no child is compromised. We understand that Early Childhood Development centres also provide the necessary caring and feeding services for children. Careful consideration will be made to ensure that we maintain the delicate balance between allowing these centres to operate, alongside the safety and health of the children and their caregivers,” Motshekga explained.
She highlighted that the delivery of Covid-19 essentials are being done in all provinces to ensure that they are stored in safe places.
According to her, the items regarded as essential are sanitisers, face masks, water and sanitation.
The department has entered into an implementation protocol agreement with the Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation and Rand Water to ensure that no school goes without water. Motshekga went on to report that the National School Nutrition Programme will also be reopened.
“All food handlers will be supplied with the required personal protective equipment including gloves, aprons and cloth face masks. These have already been procured by provinces as part of a basic health and hygiene package.
“The school nutrition budget will be utilised according to the revised school calendar and where feasible school meals will also be extended to catch-up programmes for the Gr 12’s.”
Motshekga added that they are working with the Department of Transport to ensure that safety protocols are maintained and concluded by saying everybody will be required to sanitise their hands on entering of school transport, manage social distance and wear face masks at all times.

Story: Endy Senyatsi
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