Day 295 – Postponed, Cancelled, Delayed

I’m looking at my desktop today and it’s a pretty miserable sight.

School reopening has been delayed until (at least) February 15th. Our two were due to go back on Monday. That’s clearly not happening now. Whether we (as a private school) will be allowed to work online in the intervening period remains to be seen. My boy had 16 months before his exams. Now he has 15. That’s more than 6% of his learning time gone already before he’s even started and that’s assuming that we’re able to stick to that 15th February date and that there are no further problems during 2021 (ha!).

I completely understand the delay – and I support it – but what I don’t agree with is the alleged reasoning behind it:

That will be 2½ months they will have had to “assess readiness”. I understand that the situation is fluid, and I understand that teachers need a break after last year, but is there really nothing that they could do to prepare a little more in the interim?

And then, an email from the school – before all this morning’s announcements – confirmed what we already knew: my son’s school camp has been postponed. This is on top of two scout camps being cancelled over the summer break, and his school tour – a real highlight in his educational journey – being chalked off at the end of last year.
Again, I get it, but I feel for him and his classmates: it’s just really crap.

Emirates have joined the party and suspended all flights in and out of SA for the next couple of weeks, due to “operational reasons”. I’m guess that this is a combination of not being allowed to fly in or out during curfew hours (currently 9pm-5am) and no-one wanting/needing to fly in or out anyway.

But they could just have said that.

Those who thought that 2021 might mark any sort of recovery in our fortunes*, were wrong.

I’m not even bothering to look at the calendar at all at the moment, because clearly, there’s going to be nothing that is currently on there which is going to remain in place. There will be no concerts, no gatherings, no festivals. I won’t be doing the Cycle Tour or the 2Oceans Ultra Marathon again this year. Even a social braai is going to be an ordeal.

Ugh. What a schlep.

I might go and write some online quizzes to cheer myself up and bamboozle friends and family.


* I was not one of these

Proceeding well

It’s back to school for many South African kids this week. Not for Alex and his friends in Cape Town, of course. As ever, the Mother City is a little slow to catch up and our lot only go back next week, but Gauteng and the inland provinces are back already.

And how.

Stories of boozing on the way to school, desks being chopped up for firewood and a dagga [cannabis] plantation “the size of a football field” in one school yard. And those are just the sensational stories that made it into the newspapers.

Hunter’s is the perfect refreshing thirst quencher for any occasion”

Also, I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but they’re also wearing masks. Is that really part of the uniform?
An extra day’s detention right there, I think.

The dagga plantation story was also in the Sowetan along with a picture of the offending crop. Since the paper also named the school, I think you might already be a little late to harvest your share, but if you’re in the local area, then it might be worth a quick recce.
The intergalactic street names in the vicinity of the school in question suggest that the dagga has been growing there for some time – even, like, back when the houses were being built, man. Right on.

We asked people passing by if they were aware that there was dagga at the school and the response was shocking. Everyone knew about the plants. Even a seven-year-old boy said: “I can show you what a dagga plant looks like. People smoke it every day in the yard.”

Give the lad an A for Botany and an F for a bright future. Still, at least he’s learning something.

On the front page of South Africa’s largest circulating daily newspaper, the Daily Sun, were photos of pupils from Alexandra High School sitting at the metal frames of what were once desks. According to the report, the wood had been stolen for fire wood.

All of which is highly suspicious, since surely the metal frames would also have been sold for scrap as well. People need money for food, not just fuel for the fire to cook it on.

I don’t know about you, but these sorts of stories don’t fill me with optimism about the forthcoming school year and its chances of success. But then I’m not Charles Phahlane of the Gauteng Education Department, am I?
Because Charles said:

“We are pleased that the first day of schooling in Gauteng proceeded well.”

Which is what is known in South Africa as a Basil Bonner of a statement. Lest we forget, Basil is the official doc in charge of the medical teams for the Annual Cape Argus Prawn Rally Cycle Tour who came out with this pearler back in 2008:

About 65 people had to be taken to hospital during the Argus Cycle Tour in Cape Town, two of them with suspected heart attacks.

“We had two serious head injuries, a third with a fractured hip and pelvis, and two patients, both in their 60s, with unconfirmed heart attacks. They’re in hospital having tests done,” Dr Basil Bonner, head of the emergency unit at the Milnerton Medi-Clinic, said on Sunday.

“Overall, it’s gone exceptionally well.”

Which has to be one of the most inappropriate uses of the words “exceptionally” and “well” ever, in my opinion.

Charles has obviously studied at the Bonner School of Blinkerdom if he can helpfully ignore these drink, drug and desk debacles, although when the media tried to tackle the department on the issues, they was sadly and conveniently unable to garner a response.
Would it be a bit of a stretch to suggest that the department was on a bosberaad, smoking weed and drinking cider while sitting around a campfire made out of Alexandra High School’s desks?

Yes, I think it probably would be.