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Motshekga: Mask-wearing now ‘optional’ for learners and teachers


Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said she supported the repealing of the mask mandate for learners and teachers

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has reacted to government’s decision to drop the mask mandates, welcoming the move, particularly as it relates to her portfolio.

Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla has ended the mandatory use of masks indoors as well as removed restrictions on gatherings and gazetted the amended regulations on Wednesday, 22 June 2022. The education sector has been among the most affected with the changes to COVID-19-related regulations since the pandemic began.



In a statement on Thursday, the Department of Basic Education said it aligns itself with the new development. Minister Angie Motshekga said she supported the repealing of the mask mandate for learners.

“In line with this decision to repeal the regulations, wearing of face masks by learners in classrooms, and indoor gatherings is no longer a requirement. Those learners and staff who wish to continue to wear a face mask in schools will be allowed to exercise this option,” Motshekga said.

She added the department will continue to support the COVID-19 vaccination of all learners aged from 12 years, with parental consent.

Meanwhile school unions have said they will be be backing the decision to end mask mandates, provided it was “informed by science”. Speaking to  News24, the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union’s (Sadtu) Nomusa Cembi said: “If the decision is informed by science and based on a decrease in the number of infections, we would not have a problem with lifting the mask mandate. We have said from the beginning of the pandemic that we believe science should dictate what is happening”.

The Federation of Governing Bodies of South Africa Schools (Fedsas) also welcomed the decision. CEO Jaco Deacon told the publication: “Some learners struggle to hear when teachers are wearing masks and it becomes more difficult for educators to gauge if learners have understood the lesson.

He added: “We will support decisions made on sound medical and scientific evidence, instead of decisions based on emotion”.

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