With Coronavirus infections showing an upward trend in the Northern Hemisphere, concerns are growing that the period of isolation/quarantine/lockdown may well have to be measured in months as opposed to weeks. The knock-on effect is that one of the valid questions being posed is at what point in time will the 2020 South African school academic year be considered a write-off.
In other words 2020 becomes a lost year that all students have to repeat in 2021 or what’s left of 2020 becomes part of a carefully coordinated catch-up plan extended into 2021 in conjunction with tertiary institutions who then start their first semester later in 2021 as well. The latter would mean that matrics sit for exams at some stage during the first half of 2021 (while other grade testing happens at the same time). The brand new 2021 school year would then start a month or so after the matric exams. This type of decision would probably incorporate the 2022 academic year starting a month or two after January 2022 as well.
As things stand 14 April 2020 is the date on which schools are set to reopen. Many well-off schools have been proactive by putting contingency plans for online and distance learning in place just in case there is an extension to the April date. However it is this advantage that schools in better off communities hold, that will further widen the existing gap over those in low-income areas. In an effort to manage this disparity by limiting the disadvantage to the majority of learners, the Department of Education will probably have no choice but to establish a a deadline date, which according to their intel is the point beyond which grade-12 students on the whole cannot be adequately prepared to write matric in November. By the same measure those in lower grades would be deemed to not have received sufficient tuition in the calendar to be ready for the next grade.
That key date could well be defined as a date in May with early June being the absolute outer limit.