Since the South African government declared a national state of disaster on Sunday 15th March, including closing schools two weeks prior to the upcoming Easter holidays, to curb the spread of COVID-19, EduSA centres had been preparing for the inevitable closure of post-school learning centres, which was finally announced by the Department of Higher Education and Training in the late afternoon of Tuesday 17th March.
Two university member schools had already closed their doors the previous week and Wednesday 18th March saw 19 EduSA schools pull together to cease in-school classes, while still tending to a raft of international students scrambling to change travel arrangements and get back to their home countries, at a time when global travel bans are being implemented, borders are shutting down and international flights are being cancelled. Centres are due to re-open on 15th April, as per the government’s order, but schools, with the situation so fluid and constantly changing on a daily basis, are adopting a “wait and see” approach.
Most schools have offered online learning for students remaining in the country, to ensure that they are still serviced, as well as encouraging online group social contact during this time of social distancing. This is a welcome development, as students’ mental wellbeing in a foreign country is key, especially while society at large starts to stay home where possible and access to public amenities is limited. Some centre administrations are remaining open for the moment, so that students have not been left stranded. Students are adjusting to the new normal of online classes and WhatsApp groups.
Torrique Borges, EduSA CEO, stated, “In the face of uncertainty and financial insecurity, our centres have shown a serious commitment to their civic duty through the school closures and subsequent measures taken. As with the rest of the educational and tourism industry, we have pulled together and continue to show solidarity with one another and the rest of the country. The hard work starts now and we will be working tirelessly on business resilience in the face of this inconceivable challenge.”