JOHANNESBURG

Schools started reopening in South Africa on Monday with certain graders returning to classrooms as the government has been gradually easing the coronavirus lockdown imposed two months ago.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga assured South Africans that safety measures have been put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at schools.

“We can now say with confidence that about 95% of our schools have been ably provided with the COVID-19-related imperatives,” the minister told reporters.

Pupils of grade 7 and 12 returning to schools were seen wearing face masks and their temperatures were taken at the entrance of schools to ensure no sick child entered the classrooms.

Schools have also put up sanitizers in different places and are observing social distancing rules in classes.

Provincial education officials and school heads posted pictures of learners on social media observing physical distance in classrooms with their desks meters apart.

The Department of Basic Education had initially planned to reopen schools on June 1, but postponed classes to ensure the readiness for resumption.

“We are forced to adapt to the new normal in schools to curb the spread of COVID-19. The health and safety of our educators and learners is of paramount importance,” Deputy Basic Education Minister Reginah Mhaule said in a tweet, referring to COVID-19 regulations such as wearing of face masks.

Last week, South Africa, which had one of the most-strict lockdown regulations worldwide, started allowing citizens to return to work, exercise outside their homes and go to places of worship.

South Africa has one of the highest confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Africa with 48,285 infections and 998 deaths reported.

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