Earlier today the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and Minister Angie Motshekga launched a new online resource for the local education space called Teacher Connect.

It is an app-based portal that is made available via WhatsApp, the DBE explains. They add that it is designed for use in real-time mentorship and guidance when it comes to the non-pharmaceutical elements of COVID-19 and the phased re-opening of schools.

If that is indeed the case, the timing of the portal’s launch is a little late, considering many schools have already completed the process of having learners return to school.

That said, the resources being made available should prove useful for many, especially as re-opening of schools under these conditions is unprecedented.

“This Teacher Connect is a one stop digital solution for teachers and learners in the time of COVID-19 pandemic. It will greatly assist in the phased reopening of all the schools. This tool helps us to align with the health department’s protocols on screening, testing and linkages to care,” explained Motshekga of the solution during a media briefing earlier today.

“It puts the non-pharmaceutical measures firmly in the hands of the schooling community, teachers, non-teaching staff, parents and learners,” she adds.

To access the app, teachers, parents and learners can save the Teacher Connect number on 060 060 3333, after which they will be required to conduct a health check.

Once the health check is completed, it will also give the department a better idea of the status of schools as far as their COVID-19 risk level. This too will assist in terms of track and tracing, the department notes.

“We think it will give some confidence to parents and caregivers about all the different safety measures that we are putting in place to make sure that our children in particular, and our teachers and entire school community remains safe,” concluded Motshekga.

Whether it will indeed do so, remains to be seen.

[Image – Photo by Trung Pham Quoc on Unsplash]