– Danie Keet. Above: Learners in front of the school building – ready for new adventures.

Being a small combined school has its challenges, while being an independent school adds to the challenges faced during the pandemic.

“Like most independent schools, we were left waiting to hear what the Minister of Education would say next. Independent schools were paralysed and unsure of how to proceed.”

These were the word of Mark Anthony de Klerk, principal of the Simond Private School on the R45 in Simondium, when commenting on the situation at schools in the Covid-pandemic lockdown period.

“When minister Angie Motshekga uttered these words: ‘Independent, small and special schools would be handled differently’, one could almost hear the collective sigh uttered by independent schools.”

“The management team of Simond Private School had already formulated a reopening plan. Now all that was left was to procure the required protective equipment. Our material towels were replaced by paper towel dispensers, our hand sanitisers and soap dispensers are now foot operated. We also discovered not all infrared thermometers are equal and that the purchase price does not reflect functionality.”

A learner from Simond Private School busy with work in the classroom.

A learner from Simond Private School busy with work in the classroom.

Playing outside and keeping social distancing in mind.

Playing outside and keeping social distancing in mind.

“Our most reliable thermometers are also our least expensive,” De Klerk explained.

He said it was interesting seeing mothers use in-ear thermometers to verify the accuracy of the surface thermometers. They realised that they had to embark on an educational drive, informing parents on the difference between surface temperature and core temperature. 

“We find ourselves in the third week after reopening and with God`s protection, we are blessed to report that all is well.”

“One of the benefits of being a small school during the pandemic is to be found in the smaller number of learners per class. This made the preparation easier and our ability to accommodate our learners less of a challenge. The cancellation of sport did not impact us to the same extent as the giants of sport in our region.”

“Our staff had the opportunity to get stuck-in and handle the preparations, not being reliant on suppliers outside of our control made the exercise streamlined and efficient. Appreciation all round was mentioned to the wonderful staff for the exceptional manner in which they fulfilled their tasks.”

“Since we complied with regulations from the start, without having to use teachers from lower grades to assist in the higher grades, our challenge has been met and we will be able to move forward unencumbered by concerns of what will have to be done in order to receive other grades.”

“On 1 June we reopened our doors and we have had an 85% average attendance since. Our school is fully functional and rolling. Our school is about relationships, each learner known by name.”

“Our families are not exempt from the ravages of what is happening around us. We have also suffered loss of income, health scares and failing businesses. However, we have an eternal hope, one that abides not in these temporal issues, but in a Loving Creator who says that he will never forsake or leave us,” De Klerk said.

He said when he considers the future, he becomes exited to see what God has in store for them. The school was founded in 1852 and this lockdown was only the second time the school closed its doors. The previous closure was during the Anglo-Boer war when the school building was used as an infirmary.

Doing some writing on the classroom’s white board.

Doing some writing on the classroom’s white board.