A new way of schooling

Grade 7 pupils, Sisipho Ndamane, left, and Liyema Gwadela, showing physical distancing during break.

After reopening for Grade 7s at the beginning of the month, Holy Cross Primary School has been adapting to a learning environment with Covid-19 in the mix.

Grade 7 pupil Liyema Gwadela, 13, from Lower Crossroads relies on school transport. The minibus can only carry half its usual capacity and all the pupils she travels with wear masks, she says.

“I am excited to be back because I can do my school work properly.”

Liyema says it was hard doing her school work at home because she didn’t have data to do online lessons. She spent her time at home playing games on her phone and jogging with her mom. While she is glad to be back, she says she is concerned for her safety.

“I hope that people can listen to the government to wear masks and sanitise so that we can stop the spread of the virus.”

Grade 7 head boy, Iviwe Notshati, 12, from Khayelitsha, is also excited to be back.

“I can learn my work much better when listening to my teachers.”

During lockdown, he found it hard to get help with his school work if he didn’t understand something. While at home, he played video games with his three cousins who were staying with his family.

“It got really boring playing video games the whole day and I miss playing football outside.”

Iviwe says he is anxious about the growing number of Covid-19 cases.

Principal Nomthandazo Zweni, said the 70 Grade 7 pupils have been split into four classes and the provincial education department has given masks to all staff and pupils. Teachers have hand sanitiser and disinfectant and areas have been marked out to ensure children keep their distance from each other during breaks.

Teachers from other grades are teaching Grade 7 because the Grade 7 teachers have underlying health conditions.

“All homework is given to pupils through WhatsApp which they can complete through their smartphones and the library allows the pupils to take a book home for their book reviews,” Ms Zweni said.

Tests are sanitised and sent to the home-bound Grade 7 teachers who also draw up lesson plans.

Senior teacher Carlene Leukes checks that pupils and school staff know about Covid-19 safety measures.

There are no longer assemblies at the school, she says. The principal either visits each class individually or makes an announcement over the intercom.

Pupil’s hands are sanitised whenever a new teacher enters the classroom and all toilets and classrooms are thoroughly cleaned at the end of the day.

“I am grateful for my staff. They have shown teamwork and are more conscious now about hygiene than they were before,” Ms Zweni said.