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NAISA was invited at less than a day’s notice to attend an urgent consultative meeting with the Director-
General and his senior officials. The meeting was held online between 18h00 and 19h00 on Wednesday
13 January 2021.
In his introductory remarks, the Director-General indicated that the main purpose of the meeting was to
report on the discussions held between the DBE and the National COVID 19 Command Council
(NCCC) on 12 January. The NCCC had recommended that the DBE should consult with stakeholders
to share the view of the NCCC that all schools (Independent and Public schools) should delay the reopening
of schools until 15 February 2021. The NCCC was deeply concerned about the pressure on
health care facilities given the rapid increase arising from the second wave of COVID19, with Gauteng,
Limpopo and other provinces entering their peak now and with high numbers expected for a few weeks
The Ministerial Advisory Committee had met to analyse the results of the research undertaken on the
implications of the Second wave of the pandemic.
They identified four main issues:
1. How the second wave COVID 19 infections were playing out;
2. The link between closure of schools and the reduction of the surge as it has been shown in
other countries, i.e., UK.
3. The fact that the new variant has affected the adolescent groups who also happen to be the
main cohort of secondary and high school learners, and
4. The role of co-morbidities in the rise of deaths due to COVID 19.
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NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS ASSOCIATIONS
The sentiment expressed was that the recommendation to delay the reopening school until 15 February
was for the benefit of our country and the health system to have the space to cope with the numbers
that were rising exponentially in Gauteng and many other provinces. The Director General clarified that
the recommendations still must be ratified by Cabinet and signed off by the Minister. The DG also
indicated that the Ministerial Advisory Committee was looking beyond the immediate two-week period.
The DBE will report on its consultation with stakeholders to the NCCC on 14 January at 10H00 and the
NCCC will then report to Cabinet where a final decision will be taken. The official communication from
Cabinet on the opening of all schools is expected to be released after the 15 January 2021. It was
emphasised that the request to delay the opening of schools was not coming from the DBE but from
the NCCC to bring relief to the health system.
IMPLICATIONS FOR INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS
Those schools that have already opened have a window period of a few days to meet and greet
and induct new learners until the date on which all schools should reopen is officially
Schools that have not yet opened and are able to offer online lessons should make the
necessary arrangements to start their online programmes as soon as is practically possible.
It was clear to the NAISA delegation that the independent schools’ sector could not take a unilateral
stance on this issue given the national imperative of flattening the second wave COVID-19 curve.