We Missed the Grand Ol' Lady

The staff as well as the seniors of Pretoria High School for Girls were thrilled to be back at school. Everyone who has been back, has relished the opportunity to fill the corridors with laughter and excitement and all have seemed to become used to the smell of sanitizer waiting through the air. Numerous adjustments and protocols have been put in place by the Department of Education and Health, Mrs Erasmus and the four Deputy Principals, in order to obtain a safe working environment. An interview was conducted with Mrs Schoombie, the Deputy Principal in charge of Operations and Discipline, to gain more knowledge about the new regulations. Upon entering the school, learners and staff are screened and their hands are sanitized. Learners and staff are granted access to the school with their 'All access' cards which were provided to students and staff, prior to the National Lockdown. All learners are provided with a short orientation on their first day back at school to inform them of the new changes. The orientation emphasises the need to maintain social distance; the importance of wearing masks and not wearing gloves and keeping hands clean. Video clips are played to educate students and staff on how to remove masks properly and how to clean them.

Throughout the day, the sanitation processes take place. Learners are requested to fill up from the back of the classes to prevent anyone from moving closer than 1,5 metres to each other. The last teacher to use a specific classroom before the breaks, always sanitize the desks, and at the end of the day, the ground staff, spray down each and every classroom with disinfectant. Moreover, the breaks are longer and the school day is longer because of all the processes. Also, there are intervention classes held every day so that learners are able to fill up gaps in their knowledge which may have happened during lockdown. These are huge changes and will most definitely take some geng used to. The PHSG academic staff comprises some ninety members and for this reason the hall is being used as a second staff room in order to maintain social distancing. Many more teachers are on break duty to ensure the girls are keeping apart and are sanitizing. Not only is the school concerned about the physical health of their learners but also their mental health. Ms Marais, the deputy principal in charge of Pastoral Care and Boarding has organised a team of counsellors to conduct short sessions with each student individually, to assist them emotionally. Mrs Erasmus has also requested that form teachers address the issue of sgmasm. During this tough me, learners or staff may be absent for a number of reasons and when they return they are sometimes treated differently. This causes unnecessary emotional distress. The importance of treang everyone fairly and not excluding anyone from groups or conversations, was emphasised. The school has taken all the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the virus within the grounds of the school. This me can be daunng for most, but PHSG staff members have been there to support their learners with the transformation into the new normal at every step of the way.