KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala was due to visit schools in Durban on Tuesday to ascertain whether they were adequately prepared to protect students and staff from COVID-19 infection.

Like their counterparts elsewhere around South Africa, grade 7 and 12 learners in the province returned to class on Monday for the first time since mid March, when schools were closed nationwide to avoid transmissions of the novel coronavirus.

The grades have been prioritised because the seventh year learners are transitioning to high school next year, while grade 12 students are preparing to write their final school exams at the end of 2020.

KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala delivered a virtual budget vote before members of the Provincial Executive and members of the Provincial Legislature yesterday.

KwaZulu-Natal has to date recorded 3,175 cases of Covid-19, or 6.2 percent of the national tally, according to the department of health.

On Sunday, basic education minister Angie Motshkega said schools were 95 percent ready to reopen, but the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA) said the number “does not add up” for KZN.

“The department in the province have indicated that 62 percent of liquid soap is delivered, 82 percent of masks delivered and 83 percent of thermo scanners delivered,” NAPTOSA provincial spokesperson Thirona Moodley said in a statement.

Concerns about the lack of personal protective equipment as well as water and sanitation products throughout schools in the province have been the subject of much debate ahead of the reopening.

Teachers make sure that students are in compliance with health, safety and social distancing requirements. Photo: GCIS

According to KZN’s member of the executive council for education, Kwazi Mshengu, more than 100 schools in KZN  faced water supply challenges last week.

-ANA, Editing by Stella Mapenzauswa