New lockdown rules for schools, what parents need to know

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A sense of normalcy has resumed, following the government’s decision to end rotational timetables at schools. Under the new regulations, all primary, secondary and special schools will resume full-time attendance as of Monday (7 February).

This means that all teachers, non-teaching school staff, students, and officials must now return to school and offices.

However, it should be noted that the Department of Basic Education has published updated lockdown restrictions for schools.

With the above in mind, here’s what parents should know about the updated restrictions:

Covid-19 regulations

The regulatory provision requiring learners in schools to maintain a one-metre social distance was repealed.

Non-pharmaceutical measures, on the other hand, should be maintained and adhered to by schools and education offices:

  • All students, teachers, non-teaching staff, and visitors must wear non-surgical face masks.
  • Handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitisers frequently.
  • 70% alcohol-based hand sanitisers must be placed in each classroom, at entrances and exits, and near lunchrooms and hallways. As a result, hands should be sanitised when entering and exiting these locations.
  • Schools must maintain adequate ventilation by opening doors and windows and/or using fans to circulate air.
  • School buildings and equipment must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected regularly per environmental health cleaning and disinfection protocols. For this purpose, regular bleach is recommended.

Isolating

The gazette states that if a person receives a confirmed laboratory positive COVID-19 case but has no symptoms, he or she is not required to isolate.

However, if a person receives a confirmed laboratory positive COVID-19 case and has symptoms, he or she must isolate for seven days, unless a medical practitioner recommends a longer period.

Sports and other activities

According to the Department of Basic Education, the following activities with spectators may resume:

  • Contact sport and non-contact sport, including training, intra-school and interschool matches.
  • All arts and culture intra-school and inter-school activities.
  • Co-curricular and enrichment programmes, such as oral history, spelling bee, moot court, speech contests, debates and school clubs.

However, the following rules must be followed during these activities:

  • Except when participating in training or matches accompanied by vigorous exercise, all persons entering the venues where the activities take place, change rooms, or training areas must wear face masks.
  • There must be enough hand sanitisers with at least 70% alcohol content available for all officials, coaches, assistants, learners, and participants to use.
Vaccinations

According to Angie Motshekga, Minister of Basic Education, the Department is now reminding all teachers, non-teaching school staff, and officials vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in June/July 2021 that they are now eligible for a booster vaccination.

Those who received the Pfizer double dose vaccine will be eligible for the booster dose six months after receiving the second dose.

Additionally, all students aged 12 to 17 are also encouraged to get vaccinated at their nearest vaccination site.

“Booster vaccinations are helpful, to improve protection from infection that is as a result of different variants of SARS-CoV-2. Booster vaccinations are also available in a variety of designated healthcare facilities, pharmacies and vaccination sites. Various schools may also be used as vaccination sites; but this should be done in consultation with the Department of Health. The DBE is working with the Department of Health to bring the vaccines closer to educators, support staff and eligible,” says Motshekga.

Click here to read the complete Government Gazette on the necessary protocol to be followed in schools.

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