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More than 1.1 million pupils are expected to return to over 1,400 schools in the Western Cape on Monday.

11 000 children still need to be placed in classrooms in the Western Cape alone. Nationally the figure is 16 100, according to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.

Bronagh Hammond, communications director of the Western Cape Department of Education speaks to Refilwe Moloto about school readiness as the 2021 academic year starts after delays due to Covid.

We are feeling ready and we are feeling excited. It has been a long holiday...When our schools are closed we feel disheartened.

Bronagh Hammond, Director of Communications - Western Cape Education Department

She says, however, there can be no complacency about health and safety regulations.

Some media reports are coming out with words like 'superspreader schools' but that is not what we have seen in the past.

Bronagh Hammond, Director of Communications - Western Cape Education Department

She says when there have been increased cases in the province as a whole, the cases in schools tend to mirror that trend.

We have had 140 teachers' deaths in the Western Cape sadly. 64 of those teacher deaths happened when the schools were closed - that was when we were at the height of the second wave.

Bronagh Hammond, Director of Communications - Western Cape Education Department

But we do not believe our schools are superspreader places.

Bronagh Hammond, Director of Communications - Western Cape Education Department

The risks at schools will be managed by the health and safety regulations that are in place, she says.

We are very aware of it and need to keep up the controls and monitoring of the PPE as well as compliance with the guidelines - but we feel some of the reports coming out are inaccurate in terms of these being places of risk.

Bronagh Hammond, Director of Communications - Western Cape Education Department

The plans in place differ among schools depending on the size of the classrooms, explains Hammond.

Some schools will be able to maintain a normal timetable if they have additional classrooms...but otherwise might implement a staggered timetable.

Bronagh Hammond, Director of Communications - Western Cape Education Department

Parents have been informed of when their children should be at school.

Hammond says the department has been in communication with the health department and the South Africa Paediatric Association

They say the risks are low with transmission between children....They have recommended the opening of schools.

Bronagh Hammond, Director of Communications - Western Cape Education Department

She says they will keep on reminding pupils about the golden rules to abide by to minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

More than 50 pupils are allowed in, for example. a school hall, but they need to be socially distanced, and it may only be for the purpose of education, explains Hammond.

Only pupils and teachers are allowed on school premises.

Other permission would have to be granted to be allowed into the schools.

Bronagh Hammond, Director of Communications - Western Cape Education Department

Listen to what Bronagh Hammond has to say below:

This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Schools are not superspreaders W Cape Ed Dept

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