The Eastern Cape government has so far received over 5,600 comorbidity applications from teachers who say they are in a risk category too high to go to work during the Covid-19 pandemic.
They say their underlying medical conditions could prove fatal if they contract the virus.
Of the 5,608 applications received by the provincial education department, premier Oscar Mabuyane revealed on Tuesday that 2,230 applications had so far been approved and 589 turned down.
Addressing the media in Mthatha on Tuesday, Mabuyane said the remaining 2,789 applications were still being processed.
Mabuyane said R341m was set aside by the province for recruitment of assistant teachers to fill gaps left by teachers with comorbidities and those who are now working from home.
He said teachers whose comorbidity applications were approved would work from home helping the assistant teachers going to classes in their place, and that consultations were already under way in the education labour relations council regarding recruitment of assistant teachers.
As part of their demands when protesting against the reopening of schools, education unions told the government they would return to class only once schools were provided with psychosocial services to help deal with stress.
Mabuyane on Tuesday said psychosocial services in provincial public schools were already in place for pupils, teachers and other categories of employees.
As many schools are expected to open their doors next Monday, Mabuyane revealed that the province “still has unresolved issues” around the number of scholars to be transported through the scholar transport programme.
He said the education and transport departments were working hard to resolve the issues before the mass return to school on August 24.