South African schools won’t reopen in 2020? No official announcement

On Sunday 15 March 2020 South African president Cyril Ramaphosa declared the coronavirus outbreak a national disaster and announced a range of measures to slow the spread of Covid-19, the disease the virus causes.

Covid-19 has so far been found in 170 countries or regions of the world. More than 435,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide, and over 19,000 people have died.

One of the measures Ramaphosa announced was that South African schools would be closed until 14 April, “after the Easter weekend”.

 Just over a week later Ramaphosa declared that South Africa would go into lockdown on 27 March. The lockdown has been set to last 21 days, ending only after the original 14 April date that was set for the reopening of schools.

‘Schools will not reopen in 2020’

On 24 March the Facebook page “Pretoria marking centre posted a notice about school closures.

“Dear students and candidates,” it read.

“Schools will not reopen on the 14th of April due to rapid increase of the Covid 19. The department will be informing schools that the opening date might be carried to further dates.

“IF CASES IN SOUTH AFRICA DO NOT DECREASE, SCHOOLS WILL RESUME AGAIN IN 2021 AND ALL STUDENTS WILL REPEAT THE SAME CLASS THEY STARTED THIS YEAR.”

It added: “Please forward this message.”

Marking centres, run by South Africa’s basic education department, are where exams for the matric school-leaving certificate are marked. Pretoria is South Africa’s administrative capital.

The icon on “Pretoria marking centre” is South Africa’s coat of arms, suggesting it’s an official government page.

But did the basic education department really announce this?

No official announcement

As South Africa grapples with the coronavirus outbreak, there’s still no clarity on when schools will reopen.

The basic education department has not made an official announcement on its website since releasing a media briefing about the initial announcement of school closures. It has also not made any announcement about the reopening of schools on its official Twitter or Facebook accounts.

And “Pretoria marking centre” has distanced itself from its own message.

The page, which also seems to be in the business of selling “Mandela coins”, deleted the post at around midday on 25 March.

It then reposted the message as a screenshot, with this comment: “It’s clear that you people never read anything and you believe anything you see on social media. Well you can hardly see that this is an unauthorised account. But the post reach a huge number of people.”

But the damage is done. The screenshot and message are still circulating on social media.

In a time of crisis, false information can cause enormous harm. – Africa Check


 

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