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Back to school — again. Can parents decide to keep their children out of school?

Learning continues under lockdown level 3 as the South African school year resumes, again. These department of basic education directives tell you what to expect for the rest of the school year.

Resource details:

Publication title: Re-opening of schools under Alert Level 3: Amendment

Author(s): The department of basic education

Publication date:  2 August 2020

What the directives are about:

These directives update South Africa’s school year following the break announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on 23 July 2020. The regulations outline the staggered return of students and staff to South Africa’s public schools. The directives amend and update previous regulations on basic education.  

Key take-aways from the directives:

Nutrition programmes:

Phased-in return to school:

  • Matric learners and year 4 schools of skills learners are expected to return to schools on August 3 along with teachers and supporting staff for these grades.
  • Grade 7 learners and teachers will go back to school on August 11.
  • From August 17 all school officials are expected to return to schools in preparation for learners in the remaining grades returning to school.
  • Scheduled to return on August 24 are learners in grades R, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 10 and 11. Schools of skills learners in years 1 to 3 will return to classes on this day too. 
  • The remaining learners, in grades 5 and 8, are scheduled to return to school on August 31.
  • This phased-in return applies to all public schools. Only schools which have applied and been granted permission can deviate from the outlined schedule. 

School management and support:

Attending school:

Positive cases of COVID-19:

  • If a learner tests positive for COVID-19 or has come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus and needs to go into self-quarantine or isolation, parents or caregivers must inform the school. 
  • If a learner has been exposed to COVID-19 at school and tests positive, the school should inform the learner’s parents or caregivers immediately. The school should also advise that the learner see a medical practitioner and be self-isolated or quarantined at home. 

You can find and download the directives here.

[Please note: Information on the new coronavirus is rapidly changing. Please refer to the department of basic education website for the latest information. Visit for updates on South Africa’s coronavirus response.]

Gopolang Makou was the impact and engagement officer at Bhekisisa.