Actually, schools can't tell children to stay at home once exams are done

Parents have taken to social media to express their difficulty with regards to public school teachers advising children to stay at home.

With assessment deadlines looming, teachers may not see the need for children to attend school as the curriculum has been completed. 

In one example, a parent reported that their school has sent out a notice to parents that they must collect the school reports on the 29th of November, instead of on the last day of the 2019 term: the 4th of December.

Generally, once report cards are collected, schools are seen as closed. 

The official school timetable, as determined by the National Department of Basic Education, says schools close on the 4th of December this year, and re-open on the 15th of January 2020. Schools are legally obliged to adhere to these dates. 

Children may be overjoyed by the invitation to start holidays early, but not parents, as they have to make additional arrangements like finding a caregiver for the extra weeks - often at great expense and inconvenience. 

PRINT: SA's 2020 school holiday calendar

What are your rights?

Paul Colditz, the CEO of Federation of Associations of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (FEDSAS), told Parent24 that parents must send their children to school despite teacher's advising otherwise.

Colditz also says teachers are not allowed to advise children that they must stay at home, if schools have not officially closed.

"Parents have every right to send their child to school until the very last day of school. My advice is that they should," he said.

Sue Larkan of Tabansi, who advocates for students and parents, says the official school timetable as determined by the National Department of Basic Education, is compulsory and all public schools (and both teachers and learners) are legally obliged to adhere to these dates.

She also highlights what the law says on the DOE website: a learner must attend school for every school term (calendar) day.

Larkan says it is unacceptable that up to 4 weeks of school are lost in the year, due to learners staying at home after tests or examinations are completed.

Even if learners are not writing exams anymore, she says, they must still attend school and are required to submit valid reasons for their non-attendance.

The National Education Policy Act 27 of 1996 states:

22. It is the responsibility of the principal to ensure that the school cultivates a culture of punctuality and regular attendance.

Public schools are required to monitor non-attendance of learners right up until break-up day, as well as, provide for teaching and learning during the remaining period after school exams.

*We will update with specific information pertaining to private schools shortly. 

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