There is still so much uncertainty surrounding the Coronavirus in terms of it’s true potential as a killer, its maximum ability to cause social and economic havoc and the length of time it will take hold of our nation and the rest of the world.
As schools used today (Monday 16 March 202o) to implement government decisions at hast, a big positive to come out of proceedings for parents of students at many of the leading schools in South Africa has to be the manner in which their school’s leadership is responding to the unknown.
Proactive is the operative term that best describes the approach. Headmasters and the teams working hard around them are doing their best to stay up abreast as new information on the virus becomes available and are determined put plans in place that are in the best interests of the students in both the short and long-term.
Possibly the most difficult part of the task at hand right now for school management is being adequately prepare for a situation in which it is not possible for students to return after the Easter holiday (remember the State President has declared an extended school holiday from 18 March until 14 April with a shorter one week shorter midyear holiday to make up for last time).
Amongst the contingency plans being put in place is distance leading. This ranges from online real time classes to recorded teaching sessions being made available for download, to workbooks being prepared for emailing to students and/or made available collection at the schools.
In addition to this, once a form of normality returns, schools are already carefully considering extensions to the academic day by adding one or two more catch up lessons per day. The option of Saturday morning school is also on the cards as part of the effort to ensure that students receive adequate tuition and guidance ahead of the year end examinations.
In the Western Cape, top schools have wasted no time in deciding that sports and cultural activities should be halted long past 14 April and all the way until 30 June.
The vast sums of money spent on rugby are not factoring into the equation at any of the institutions where you may have had the impression it mattered a great deal in the past. Irrespective of losses that will be incurred via direct or indirect funds for festivals, transport, coaches, support staff, players both long term and those brand new to the schools; writing these costs off and even deciding on how to recover part of the 2020 rugby season, are all very much on the back-burner at the moment.
Health, safety and academic education are very much the priorities.