Schools prepare for pupils’ return

Sans Souci Girls High School PE teacher Shafiek Murphy standing in the disinfectant tunnel before entering the school.

With many schools opening on Monday June 1, teachers and principals have been checking safety measures to protect pupils from Covid-19.

Earlier this month, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced the phased reopening of schools with Grade 7s and matrics in the first wave.

“Every school must adhere and observe the health and safety protocols that will be put in place,” she said.

Sans Souci Girls High School in Newlands has built a tunnel in which teachers, pupils and visitors will be sprayed with disinfectant before entering the school.

Red floor markings on the school hall floor will ensure pupils stand well enough apart while they wait to be screened by staff.

Hand sanitiser will be available and they will be asked if they have a fever, cough, shortness of breath or sore throat or if they have had contact with someone who has Covid-19.

A staff member in personal protective equipment (PPE) will check their temperature with a hand-held thermometer. If it’s higher than 38 degrees Celsius they will be sent to an isolation area on the other side of the school where arrangements will be made for the pupils to be picked up by parents.

Staff will go through the same procedure, but if their temperature is high they will be asked to consult a doctor immediately.

All pupils will be given Sans Souci branded face masks.

According to principal Ruschda O’Shea, the school’s 103 matrics will be in classes of 10 to 30 pupils at a time depending on the subject.

“We take into account the size of the venue, to ensure that there is enough space for the pupils to physical distance themselves.”

The girls will have breaks in designated rooms and teachers will be on hand to ensure there is appropriate physical distancing.

In each classroom, a teacher will have a sanitiser and cloth to disinfect surfaces.

“I am excited and nervous that school is starting,” Ms O Shea said.

“We missed the girls. We are in uncertain times, and it’s our job as leaders of the school to ensure that we allay the fears of the girls and parents while they are preparing for the upcoming exams.”

Music teacher Curvin Engel said he was excited to get back into the classroom.

“As educators I think we went above and beyond to do what is required to ensure we are ready for the pupils.”

Rustenburg Girls’ High School spokeswoman Geila Wills said the Rondebosch school had been deep cleaned and sanitised in preparation for the return of teachers and pupils.

“Additional hand-sanitiser stations have been installed and additional cloth face masks sourced for staff and learners.”

The 163 matriculants would gather in venues appropriate for physical distancing, she said.

“Where feasible, classes have been split or combined in larger venues to maintain the 1.5m physical distancing guidelines and masks are required to be worn at all times by staff and pupils.”

Principal Michael Gates said it was important for pupils to feel safe at school.

“We have our counsellors and staff on hand to ensure we can ensure such safety.”

Both schools will be running Covid-19 orientation sessions for pupils.