Lower grades back at school

Walvis Bay and Omaruru primary schools are faced with a number of challenges with their learners back.

22 September 2020 | Education

Natalia Guriras, deputy education director: “Some schools in the Omaruru Circuit can only start once they have proper ablution facilities and potable water.”

Leandrea Louw

Grade four, five and six learners were welcomed back at school on last week. The government schools have opted to divide the children into groups, which will come to school on alternative days. This method of teaching is to ensure that the social distancing health protocol is adhered to.

According to the deputy director of education, Natalia Guriras, most primary schools have started and are coping well with the situation.

“However, it is too early to judge on the first few days back at school. Learners not wearing proper face masks and maintaining social distance are some of the challenges. The thermo guns provided by the government are not effective any more as the schools are in dire need of more. There are shortages of textbooks and some learners lost their exercise books while at home. Additionally, learners need more time to get accustomed to the new set-up at school while other schools prepared timetables in advance and started with teaching and learning on 14 September 2020.”

She explained that a few schools had congestion of ablution facilities due to huge numbers. “The attendance for grades four to six on the first day for most schools was satisfactory.”

OMARURU CIRCUIT

The deputy director explained that 12 schools have started with face-to-face teaching in the Omaruru Circuit.

“Ozondati Primary School and Ovihitua Primary School will only resume on 21 September 2020 as they only have junior primary. Omatjete Primary School, Otjohorongo Porimary School, Katora Primary School and !Oe?Gab Primary School did not resume with face-to-face teaching and learning as they did not meet the World Health Organisation requirements. All these schools lack ablution facilities and potable water and thus will only resume once those can be provided.”

Guriras highlighted a number of challenges faced by primary schools in the region.

“These include shortages of textbooks, marking of learners’ work, a shortage of ablution facilities at some schools, effective implementation of the Namibian School Feeding Programme, continuous adherence to health protocols such as continuous wearing of masks, sanitising and washing hands regularly, and social distancing.

“With First Language ties at some schools, learners are forced to join their peers in other classes. This defeats our stance of wanting to keep learners in their classes without rotating. Schools are experiencing overcrowding with temperature checks at gates in mornings. Late coming of learners is a serious challenge at some schools.”

She explained that hostel accommodation remains a major challenge and dormitories may become congested if all the learners return to school, which the directorate believe will be the case.

“It will be impossible to maintain social distancing at all state, private and community hostels except S I !Gobs Secondary School hostel. Manpower remains a serious challenge as parents, guardians and community members are not coming through as volunteers to assist schools.”

Guriras furthermore said that all 14 schools are ready to resume for face-to-face teaching for pre-primary to grade three learners on 21 September 2020.

“Ovihitua Primary School will only resume for day learners on 21 September 2020. Ovihitua Primary School still needs minor repair of toilets at the hostel side, thus the reopening of the hostel at Ovihitua will be delayed by a week. It will reopen on Sunday, 27 September 2020.

“Omatjete Primary School, Katora Primary School, !Oe?Gab Primary School and Otjohorongo Primary School will not be able to resume due to non-functional ablution facilities and supply of consistent potable water.”

WALVIS BAY CIRCUIT

All primary schools started in Walvis Bay and all schools in Walvis Bay are ready to resume with pre-primary to grade three face-to-face teaching next week.

Immanuel Ruiters Primary School: “We encountered no hiccups, but not all learners returned to school though. The platoon system was a challenge; however, we managed to place the learners in our hall and library.”

Flamingo Primary School: “We are coping quite well and no hiccups experienced at our school thus far.”

Kuisebmond Primary School: “The screening and sanitising in the morning took a lot of time. One challenge we are facing is the timetable; the rationalised curriculum is not specific. Learners cannot recall the content learnt before lockdown and most activities sent home were not completed that was supposed to be done during lockdown. Our space on the premises is not enough to adhere to social distancing. We need a bit more direction with the assessment procedure needed. The provision of sanitiser will be a huge financial burden to schools.”

!Nara Primary School: “It’s a time-consuming process to check and sanitise learners in the morning with only a few thermo guns. We have too many learners to monitor during break time. The covering of the syllabus remains a challenge within the limited time.”

Narraville Primary School: “Face-to-face teaching is much better than we anticipated and learners are adhering to the set protocols. Not all learners have returned to school, making it problematic for teachers to complete their continuous assessment. Additionally, not all learners have their masks on at all times and physical contact amongst some learners, especially during intervals, is a challenge.”

Seaside Primary School: “We only experienced a few hiccups on Monday, but on Tuesday it all went well. The only process that is time consuming is the recording and checking of the learners’ temperature in the mornings. There were a lot of challenges as we have divided the learners into two groups. The only challenge is that parents are keeping the learners at home.”

Tutaleni Primary School: “Different class groups were divided into two groups to maintain social distancing in the classrooms. Each learner will attend school at least two to three days a week. Learners are yet to readjust to the current protocol.”

SWAKOPMUND CIRCUIT

All primary schools started except UB Dax Primary School and were ready to receive their lower grades back on Monday.

Arandis Primary School: “We experienced no hiccups and we are coping well.”

Namib Primary School: “We started well on Monday with an orientation session for the learners.

Tamariskia Primary School: “Attendance of the learners improves from day to day and we are coping well. Break time is a challenge as learners want to play and need to get used to social distancing.”

Atlantic Junior Secondary School: “We are doing well and we’ve experienced no hiccups. One challenge is when learners are tested and results are delayed. The learner loses valuable teaching time and falls behind with school work as a result of the delays. Learners who are tested show up at school because of fear of losing out on school work. At the same time, they are a danger to others. They are sent home, but they do not accept it easily.”

Hanganeni Primary School: “We are coping well, with no hiccups thus far.”

Vrede Rede Primary School: “Not all learners have returned to school yet, about 20% haven’t returned yet but we are coping well.”

Westside High School: “We’ve experienced no hiccups. It is time consuming to take learners temperatures and to sanitise. Learners need to get used to maintaining social distancing as they want to give hugs to each other.”

Swakopmund Primary School: “All went well on the first day with no hiccups experienced and no challenges.”

Kamwandi Combined School: “We experienced no hiccups and no challenges whatsoever.”

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