“There’s lots of social distancing and sanitiser everywhere! It feels good to be back though.”“Weird with everyone in masks and stuff, but great to be back.”
These were the comments of two Makhanda learners among hundreds of Grade 7s and 12s who returned to school on Monday after nearly 12 weeks.
Grades R, 3, 6, 10 and 11 will return on 6 July, with grades 4, 5, 8 and 9 returning on 3 August.
This week, the learners encountered all the new protocols in place to slow the spread of Covid-19, starting the school day with queueing on the pavement outside.
It was all new and strange to the Grade 7s and Grade 12s, the first to return. Not quite as strange for principals and teachers who returned two weeks ago to prepare teaching spaces to minimise the transmission of Covid-19.
How was the first week back?
Zoleka Kate – Principal, Fikizolo Primary
Our learners returned back to school on Tuesday 9 June, as we were waiting for the delivery of their PPEs. Parents did send their children to school on the first day and attendance was 79%, 87% second day and 90% on Thursday.
Though we are operating in a difficult situation, where we’re all anxious about the unknown, things went well.
We are happy with learner attendance, as it is growing day by day. We are all not sure of the next day, but we are hoping for the best as we are trying to stick to the Covid-19 regulations in protecting both our learners and staff.
Madeleine Schoeman – Principal, Ntsika Secondary School
Staff are working very hard to deal with new and known demands, with testing, reflecting and adapting. It’s a time of many reports, and much care.
Our Grade 12s generally appear apprehensive and preoccupied, understandably so given the times. Their stress about the future adds to a difficult time for them.
We are looking forward to Rhodes University Community Engagement and departmental assistance with psycho-socio support to assist staff and learners in every possible way.”
Leon Coetzee – Principal, Grahamstown Primary
As much as we managed to get the school cleaned and sanitised, the scope changed when you had to implement all the plans.
The anxiety showed on the faces of the learners as they all had to adapt to something completely new. Lining up to be screened, sanitising and social distancing looked too much to handle. But we managed past day one incident free.
I’ve got to give credit to my staff. It really was all hands on deck.
Teaching with a mask is a mission – you have to speak on top of your voice.
But at least we are moving. What does the future hold? We don’t know, but let’s be positive and make sure learners and staff are safe.
Gregg von Molendorff – Deputy Principal, Graeme College
I think staff have been brilliant. We started with an Orientation Day last Friday, which helped enormously. So this week went smoothly.
Staff have adjusted to the large venues, with IT making them well suited. They have been so keen to get started, and every comment is positive. Everybody is so aware of the situation, and we also have so much empathy for parents who can’t always be at home assisting the learning process. Staff have also been brilliant with regard to safety and protocols.
I think learners are so relieved to be back. Grade 12s have been in a bit of a panic mode with regard to their final year of school. They too have adapted to venues, and have been incredibly diligent.
We have tried our best to keep the pandemic as real for them as possible, with regard to educating them further about contracting and spreading the virus. So hopefully, they take that message home, and understand the gravity of the situation.
The Grade 7s have been superb in every area. I think they are even more excited to be back, and enjoying the routines that school gives them.
In the meantime, Graeme continues to try stay in contact with all the other parents and learners, continually sending content and notes home in packs.
I think it has been a very stress-free environment and process, which is quite interesting. I imagined the learners would be more stressed about returning to school than they actually are.
On Monday learners across Makhanda went to school after being in lockdown for 72 days. Grade seven and 12 learners had to adapt to the new environment of standing in a queue to get inside their school premises and having their temperatures checked at all the entrances before they could continue to their classrooms.