Far south high schools ready to reopen

Masiphumelele High School

Schools reopen on Monday February 15, and the principals of Masiphumelele, Ocean View and Fish Hoek high schools tell YOLANDE DU PREEZ their plans for 2021.

The Department of Basic Education delayed reopening schools to curb the spread of Covid-19 during the second wave, and now that the peak has passed, pupils will return to class next week, but schools must still follow the standard drill of masks, physical distancing, daily screenings and sanitising hands and surfaces.

Masiphumelele High School Principal Nelson Mafrika says his school is ready. Personal protective equipment (PPE) will be freely available to all pupils and classes will be limited to 20 pupils each, he says. Before Covid-19 there were up to 48 pupils per class.

Staff had been briefed on how to allocate pupils to smaller classes and the next week would be spent making sure all systems were ready, he said.

Matric pupils will be at school every day from 8am to 3pm while Grades 8 to 11 will attend school for three-and-a-half hours a day, with Grades 8 and 9 in the morning and Grades 10 and 11 in the afternoon.

The school has done away with breaks to ensure physical distancing: pupils will eat in class and leave right after their lessons are done.

“The virus is unpredictable so we will start the curriculum at a high pace and do as much as we can,” he said.

Staff were aware of what work had been missed due to the long school closures last year and were committed to making sure every pupil got the help they needed, he said.

“My vision for 2021 is that it will be a fruitful year and that all our pupils and staff remain safe in these uncertain times.”

Ocean View High School principal Keith Klein said the school was ready to reopen and staff were having orientation training.

Ocean View High School

This year the school planned to make better use of technology to keep pupils abreast with the curriculum.

“We will continue with our electronic learning and to assist pupils via our WhatsApp and Facebook group,” he said.

A local NPO had made several wi-fi spots available in Ocean View for pupils without home internet access to download lessons.

Mr Klein said he did not see the virus disappearing soon so school staff would need retraining to stay up to date with technologies being used to optimise teaching.

Fish Hoek High School principal Gavin Fish said the school would work on a 10-day week. The school’s Grade 10s and 11s will be at school five days out of 10 with a sixth day for tests and/or extra lessons, and the Grade 8s and 9s will be at school for six out of 10 days.

“It was clear last year that the socio-emotional and academic impact was most acutely felt by the juniors, so all grades will be accountably occupied for 10 out of 10 days; whether at school or at home.”

Fish Hoek High School

The school calendar was adjusted to still allow for 200 days of schooling, as in the past, and syllabi also accounted for the disruptions, he said.

The school was determined to creatively face whatever obstacles and challenges the year threw at it, he said.

“We are committed to prioritising people more than ever before. I believe that that is a powerful mix. It is the Fish Hoek way. Our blood is red.”