Lower grades back to school

Walvis Bay and Omaruru primary schools are facing a number of challenges since their learners returned to classes.

19 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.”

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Grade four, five and six learners were welcomed back at school on Monday.

Government schools have opted to divide the children into groups to allow them to come to school on alternative days. This method of teaching is to ensure that social distancing is adhered to.

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

“Learners are not wearing proper face masks and maintaining social distance is a challenge. The thermo guns provided by government are not effective with schools being in dire need of more of these devices. There’s shortages of textbooks. 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 added that a few schools had experienced congestion of ablution facilities due to huge numbers and said that the attendance for grades 4-6 on the first day for most schools was satisfactory.

Omaruru circuit

The deputy director said that 12 schools have started with face-to-face teaching and learning 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, Otjohorongo, Katora and !Oe≠Gab primary schools did not resume with face-to-face teaching and learning as they are not meeting World Health Organisation requirements. All these schools do not have ablution facilities and portable water and thus will only resume if that cab be provided.”

Guriras highlighted a number of challenges faced by primary schools in the region. These include a shortage 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, sanitizing 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 also experiencing issues due to temperature checks at gates in mornings while late coming of learners is a serious challenge at some schools.

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,” Gurisas said.

All 14 schools are ready to resume face-to-face teaching and learning for pre-primary to grade three learners on 21 September 2020.

Ovihitua Primary School will only resume for day learners on 21 September 2020.

“The school still needs minor repair of toilets at the hostel, thus the re-opening of the hostel at Ovihitua will be delayed by a week. It will reopen on Sunday, 27 September 2020. Omatjete, Katora, !Oe≠Gab 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 schools

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

Immanuel Ruiters Primary School encountered no hiccups, but not all learners returned to school. The platoon system is a challenge and some learners have been accommodated in the hall and library.

Flamingo Primary School is coping well and no hiccups were experienced at the school thus far.

The screening and sanitizing in the morning took a lot of time Kuisebmund Primary School.

Another challenge faced at the school is the timetable since the rationalized curriculum is not specific.

Learners cannot recall the content learnt before lockdown and most activities sent home were not completed that were supposed to be done during lockdown.

The space on the premises is not enough to adhere to social distancing. The school also indicated that it needs more direction with the assessment procedure needed. The provision of sanitizer will be a huge financial burden.

Checking and sanitizing learners in the morning with only a few thermo guns is another compounding issue at !Nara Primary School. There are also too many learners to monitor during break time. The covering of the syllabus remains a challenge within the limited time available.

Face-to-face teaching is much better than we anticipated and learners are adhering to the set protocols at Narraville Primary School.

Not all learners have returned to school, making it problematic for teachers to complete their continuous assessment. Some learners do not wear their masks at all times and physical contact amongst some learners especially during intervals is a challenge.

A few hiccups were experienced on Monday, but on Tuesday all went well at Seaside Primary school. The recording and checking of learners’ temperature in the mornings is time-consuming. There were many challenges due to the learners being divided into two groups. Another challenge is that parents are keeping the learners at home.

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

Swakopmund circuit schools

All primary schools started, except UB Dax Primary School, and are ready to receive their lower grades back on Monday.
Arandis Primary School experienced no hiccups and is coping well.

Namib Primary School started off well on Monday with an orientation session for the learners.

The attendance of the learners improves from day to day at Tamariskia Primary School. Break time is a challenge as learners want to play and need to get used to social distancing.

Atlantic Junior Secondary School is doing well and 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 is also coping well, with no hiccups experienced thus far.

Approximately 20% of the learners haven’t returned at Vrede Rede Primary School.

Westside High School experienced no hiccups. It is however time-consuming to take learners temperatures and to sanitize. Learners need to get used to maintaining social distancing as they want to give hugs to each other.

All went well on the first day with no hiccups or challenges experienced at Swakopmund Primary School and Kamwandi Combined School.