South Africa has shut down its public schools for four weeks following a surge in coronavirus cases and deaths, President Cyril Ramaphosa has said.“Cabinet has decided that all public schools should take a break for the next four weeks. This means that schools will be closed from the 27th of July and will reopen on the 24th of August,” the president announced Thursday night.
In a live broadcast to the nation, Ramaphosa said his government took the decision after consultations with different stakeholders, including teachers’ unions.
While it was difficult to find consensus on which approach was best, it was agreed that the health of learners and teachers remained paramount for the country, the president said.
Ramaphosa added that the school shutdown was in line with the World Health Organisation’s guidelines, which warn countries not to reopen schools while local transmission of the coronavirus is on the rise.
This development, however, would not affect Grade 12 students and their teachers who have been given a week’s break, while those in Grade 7 will be on recess for two weeks.
Due to the shutdown, the current academic year will be extended to December, the president added.
South Africa has seen its coronavirus cases rise to 408,052 and over 6,000 people die from the pandemic since its outbreak in March 2020.