The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has said that the amount of students currently occupying classrooms in the province is increasing positively, with crucial school exams and assessments just around the corner.
They said on Sunday 13 September that there are currently 77% of registered grade 7 students learning in the classrooms, with 87% of matrics having returned just in time for their final exams.
School attendance over 75% for grades 7 and 12
With attendance for grades 7 and 12 having sat at a lowly 33% and 44% respectively at the beginning of June, the increase is being welcomed and the WCED says that reduced levels of anxiety are in part to thank.
Democratic Alliance (DA) MPP Lorraine Botha said that the reducing daily COVID-19 case reports have emboldened parents, students, and teachers.
"The increasing rate of attendance can be attributed to the decrease of COVID-19 infections and reduced levels of anxiety related thereto," she said.
"There are fourteen weeks left of the 2020 academic year, and with the nature of the mandatory phased-in approached, contact time is dramatically reduced due to alternating attendance of grades."
She urged students to use the remaining weeks of the 2020 academic year as effectively as possible to make up for the lost time.
"With the amount of time left, learners need to make the most of every bit of time. The Standing Committee of Education at Provincial Parliament will thus embark on an oversight week to schools in the province in order to gain insights on the remaining challenges experienced under the phased-in approached."
Lower average attendance for other grades
The WCED did however concede that the return to school of other age groups had been less quickly actioned.
"The attendance rate amongst Grade 4 and 10 learners is unfortunately still relatively low," they said.
"Parents and caregivers are encouraged to enquire from schools information relating to their Temporary Revised Education Plans and send learners who are able to attend, back to school accordingly."
Botha said that there has been a strong response from Grades 5 and 8, who were only permitted to return to school at the end of August.
"Following directives by the national Department of Basic Education, learners in Grade 5 and 8 were only expected to return last week, 31 August 2020. The attendance rate for these learners is, however, already at an average of 67.7%," she said.
"We now need to ensure we monitor key aspects of the system to successfully complete the remainder of the academic year."