Some 517,000 education personnel out of 582,000 had been vaccinated by the time the programme closed on July 14, Mhlanga said.
“Others could not get vaccinated because of various reasons including illness, Covid-19 positive cases, flu vaccines and hesitancy,” he said.
The purpose of the circular “was to provide guidance regarding the operational requirements for educators employed in terms of the Employment of Educators Act of 1998,” Mhlanga said.
While the department had recommended vaccinations for all employees, it had not compelled people to be vaccinated, he said, adding that it respected the rights of people to choose not to be vaccinated on constitutional, religious, cultural, comorbidity or medical grounds.
Teachers who were concerned about comorbidities, medical conditions or illness needed to apply for leave from provincial education departments and if they were unable to perform their duties, the matter would be handled in terms of the Labour Relations Act along with the Employment of Educators Act.
“Where an educator simply refuses to report for duty without a valid reason and based on a reasonable instruction by the employer, such matters will be handled in terms of the disciplinary procedures of the Employment of Educators Act,” Mhlanga said.