by Okeri Ngutjinazo
THE Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture says it will closely monitor the resumption of face-to-face learning at schools this week to determine if adjustments are needed.
Grades 11 and 12 are set to return to school on Wednesday.
Schools in all 14 regions will resume classes while Walvis Bay has returned to stage 1 lockdown after new Covid-19 cases were reported in the coastal town.
The country now has 24 confirmed cases with 14 recoveries.
Deputy education minister Faustina Caley said the ministry is sending pupils back to school in phases to “observe the situation as it unfolds”.
“We are starting on 3 June to give ourselves a few weeks to prepare the other groups, so that we can learn from the experiences of [the first] group. The other groups will always be bigger; then we can rectify and see with the next group,” she says.
Caley says Grades 11 and 12 are first in line, because it is not a large group, noting they are easier to host and they will be sitting for external examinations.
The ministry encouraged Walvis Bay teachers to continue distance learning.
Caley admitted some people are not able to afford masks – especially those in rural areas.
She said businesses have come on board to give support while the ministry has also distributed funds for regional boards to procure masks.
Regions such as Kavango East, Kavango West, Zambezi, Erongo, Kunene and Otjozondjupa received masks over the weekend. Another batch will be delivered to the Omusati, Khomas, Oshikoto, Omaheke, Hardap and //Kharas regions.
“We want children to have two masks each so that when one is washed, they can use the other one. We are asking parents who can afford it to also help,” she said.
“Some of them are produced in the regions, so it will not be a problem. On top of that, most of the schools have at least two thermo guns and there is running water for all schools who are having Grade 11 and 12 classes,” she said.
Caley said pre-primary to Grade 3 pupils will be returning to classes because the ministry has observed that parents, especially those in urban areas, have returned to work and in the normal situation they drop their children at school or crèche.
She said for the visually impaired, schools will continue and modalities have also been made to help them. Community centres and libraries will also be open for pupils to be assisted at those centres.
Also speaking at the centre, deputy health minister Ester Muinjangue said with the complexity of the virus, it is difficult to determine when schools will be ready to open. She said as the country moves to stage three, the government will also be observing the developments.
“During this stage, it requires a high level of vigilance and responsibility at all levels – personal, community and organizational levels. We never know when it’s ready, that’s why we are saying we need to start somewhere and observe,” she said.
When asked how younger children will adhere to the regulations such as wearing masks, the deputy minister noted that education on Covid-19 has been happening for months in homes and in the country.
“Even at home awareness has already been created, so children are aware of what is happening in the country,” she said, adding that children should not be underestimated.
Muinjangue said those teachers at Walvis Bay who need to return to their respective towns for teaching should apply for permits with regional director or health inspectors.
The deputy minister said the temperature of pupils should be checked when they enter the school premises in the morning and when they leave for home.