The Gujarat High Court on Monday asked the primary school teachers in Ahmedabad district to do the assigned duties at the Covid-19 hospitals or face action. The teachers had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), against an order which assigned them helpdesk duties outside designated private Covid-19 hospitals, which they withdrew.
The petitioner, Ahmedabad Zilla Prathmik Shikshak Sangh, had challenged the district education officer’s order directing primary school teachers to work on an eight-hour day and night shift at the helpdesk of the Covid-19 hospitals in Ahmedabad city.
According to the advocate representing the petitioner, a decision was taken to withdraw the matter owing to the court’s decision to not hear the matter based on its legality. The court had further opined that given the Covid-19 emergency, the teachers must not challenge the order and such a challenge would attract an adverse order from the court.
Confirming this, president of Ahmedabad Zilla Prathmik Shikshak Sangh Khodubhai Padhiyar said, “Our main concern was that with such duties risking our health where chances of getting infected are high, we would infect students too as we have to perform our academic work too including visiting students for assignments, tests, feedback and distribution of books. But now with the HC ruling, we have no option but to report to these Covid-related duties from tomorrow.”
Under the helpdesk, over 265 district primary teachers have been assigned eight-hour-long shifts from 7 am to 3 pm and 3 pm to 11 pm, to collect details of Covid-19 patients coming in the hospital, share these with the central helpline number and take report of unoccupied beds and ventilators in the hospital after every one or two hours.
After Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation School Board teachers were roped in for the second round of door-to-door survey and helpdesk duties from July 1, nearly 900 teachers of Ahmedabad district primary schools were roped in for door-to-door survey and help desk work. While the order for door-to-door survey was issued on July 17, the order assigning helpdesk duties starting from August 4 was issued on July 31.
Following these orders, the Ahmedabad District Primary Education Officer had issued two show-cause notices on July 20 and August 4 when these teachers did not report to their assigned duties.
Narendrabhai Patel, secretary of Gujarat Primary Teachers Association said, “From sanitation staff to doctors working at the Covid-19 hospitals, all are provided PPE kits. But, why teachers have been asked to work without safety equipment? …We do not demand any honorarium for these additional duties. But we demand safety equipment and conducive working hours.”
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