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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Oxygen to vaccination, Delhi’s teachers go above and beyond the classroom

Significantly, schools are supposed to be at work formulating the marks of class X students in the absence of board exams. But in government schools, this is a tough task at the moment.

Written by Sukrita Baruah | New Delhi |
May 8, 2021 10:02:46 pm
A health worker adjusts an oxygen cylinder at a Shaihnai banquet hall, converted into a COVID-19 isolation center, in New Delhi, Saturday, May 8, 2021.

Occupied with Covid-related activities for months, teachers from government and municipal corporation schools are increasingly going beyond their role as educators, particularly during the current surge in cases in the capital.

At the beginning of this month, Vinod Yadav, a teacher, found his phone ringing incessantly with calls from attendants of patients desperately looking for oxygen. He had just been posted as nodal officer at an oxygen refilling centre in Dwarka.

“We have three teams with eight-hour shifts, and we are coordinating and maintaining a record of the supply of oxygen to two hospitals in Tilak Nagar… The circular from the District Magistrate’s office deploying us for these duties must have circulated on WhatsApp because in the first two-three days, my phone was ringing non-stop with calls from family members of patients looking for oxygen who thought I could provide it to them. They must have been calling every resource they could find. I am only overseeing the supply to hospitals but I pointed them towards a few centres which are refilling individual cylinders. In those centres, there is often maara-maari to get refilling done, so teachers on duty there are also trying to supervise and prevent that,” he said.

Things had come to a head recently when some teachers were allotted duty for “monitoring of dead bodies” at hospital mortuaries. However, after an outcry from teacher unions, the order was withdrawn.

One of the teachers who had been allotted this duty is now on posted at a dispensary, doing contact tracing. Until last month, he was on duty at the airport, assisting in screening passengers.

This has meant their school-related activities have come to a stop. With early declaration of summer vacations, classes had been paused, and non-teaching school work which needs to be completed is at a standstill.

Significantly, schools are supposed to be at work formulating the marks of class X students in the absence of board exams. But in government schools, this is a tough task at the moment.

“My school is currently a vaccination centre and 15 of my teachers are involved in that. There is one doctor supervising the five rooms in which vaccinations are happening, and one nurse administering the vaccines in each room. All data entry work is being done by teachers. Five teachers of my school are on vaccine duty in hospitals… There are 19 centres in my district which are once again functioning as hunger relief centres,” said Sukhbir Singh Yadav, head of a school in Rohini.

The head of another school said that 28 out of 35 regular teachers of the school are on various Covid duties. “Anywhere you look where Covid needs are being addressed, there are teachers,” he said.

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