Curro Durbanville reopens despite Covid surge fears

While most schools around the country will only start the academic year on Monday February 15 because of the second-wave surge in Covid-19 infections, Curro Durbanville reopened on Wednesday January 13.

The school said it had strengthened its Covid-19 safety measures to protect staff and pupils and there was online schooling for pupils whose parents were reluctant to send them back right now.

Dirk van Zyl, executive head of Curro Durbanville, said: “As we enter the 2021 academic year, we have realised that there may be some parents who are uncertain about sending their children back to school. We have given our parents the option to return their children to school, or to keep them at home where remote and virtual learning will continue. We are proud of our proven track record of a successful hybrid and remote learning model.”

According to Mr Van Zyl, the number of staff at the school will depend on how many pupils return to the physical classrooms.

The school now had stricter rules for screening, physical distancing and mask wearing, he said.

“We take the current resurgence of Covid-19 very seriously and will continue to prioritise a balance between the health of all at our school and the need to fulfil our commitment to our parents and learners.”

Education MEC Debbie Schafer said she was concerned about the effect the decision by the national Department of Basic Education (DBE) to delay the reopening of schools to February 15 would have on pupils’ long-term education and on parents trying to work.

“It is not clear that a two-week delay will find us in a vastly different situation to the current one. We would have preferred a differentiated approach, as not all provinces are affected the same or at the same time.”

While Curro Durbanville can open early because it is a private school, the Western Cape Education Department is still awaiting guidelines from the DBE for the opening of other schools in the province.

WCED spokeswoman Bronagh Hammond said: “There are still some outstanding matters that need further clarity, which we hope to receive through the amended directions to be issued by DBE. These include clarity on the grades returning, the national school nutrition programme, comorbidities (handling somebody who suffers from multiple medical conditions) and others. We await the publishing of these directions, which will determine how we move forward as a province in managing the opening of schools.”