- Gauteng says it will be guided by experts and national government on whether schools remain open or closed.
- The province has started the process of applications from teachers with comorbidities who wish to remain at home.
- The department says it remains concerned that around 30% of Grade 12s are still not back at school.
Grade R pupils in Gauteng have recorded the lowest attendance since reopening, MEC Panyaza Lesufi revealed during the weekly Provincial Command Council update on Friday.
"We have now consolidated the attendance register of all these particular grades. For Grade R, that's where we have got the lowest form of attendance. Only 23% of learners came back. Majority of learners preferred to learn at home," Lesufi said.
Lesufi was providing an update on the status of schools since they opened their doors to Grade 7 and 12 pupils on 8 June - and Grade R, 6 and 11 on 6 July under Level 3 of the lockdown.
According to the MEC, Grade 6 recorded an attendance of 53%; Grade 7, 58%; Grade 11 over 61%; and Grade 12s an average of over 70%.
"We also want to share the average attendance of educators in our schools. In terms of Grade R, attendance stands at 69%, Grade 6 at 71%, Grade 7 at 75%, Grade 11 we are at 74% and in terms of Grade 12 we are at 76%.
"I think we are very fortunate that we have got 70% of learners that are attending Grade 12. So the 76% of educators slightly makes us to accommodate the number of learners that are available," he said.
But Lesufi added that, if more pupils returned, schools would struggle with teacher capacity.
In addition, as of 15 July, 1 977 of the province's 2 131 public schools were open and 154 were closed due to infections.
At least 57 of the 713 private schools, which are subsidised by the department, were closed.
A total of 3 699 educators above the age of 60, who have underlying diseases and cannot report for duty, have also been reported to the department, Lesufi said.
He said authorisation processes would get under way regarding who could remain at home.
"We are sitting with 4 100 applications of people that say they want to work from home or want to be excused from work. Of the 4 100 applications we have received, we have only approved 658.
"We need to replace almost 3 620 educators with young, dynamic new educators. We have started that process," the MEC said.
Best interest of children
Lesufi said the provincial department was still facing disruptions, which were being attended to by Minister Angie Motshekga.
He said, if the province was advised by experts and the national government to close, then it would do so.
Lesufi added the department strongly believed school premises were an organised space to ensure there was adequate physical distancing and that masks were worn, rather than children being in communities.
"Let's take a decision that will be in the best interest of everyone, not in the best interest of those that have got access to sanitisers and masks," the MEC said.
The department also announced there were eight days left until the closing date for admission applications for 2021. The process closes on 25 July.
A total of 203 579 for Grade 1 and 8 had been received as of 15 July.
Parents have also been urged to submit the required documents.