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Punjab: Covid cases surging but government teachers still coming to schools

As Covid cases started surging in March, schools were declared closed for students on March 12 but teachers were told to report as usual.

Written by Divya Goyal | Ludhiana |
April 28, 2021 11:51:22 pm
Teachers at the Govt. Primary School at Sarabha Nagar in Ludhiana. (Express Photo by Gurmeet Singh)

Even as over 6,000 Covid cases are being recorded on an average in Punjab daily in the second wave, teachers and non-teaching staff has been still reporting physically for their duties in government schools.

According to the orders issued by the director (secondary education) Punjab dated April 19, all schools including government, aided, private and affiliated will remain shut across the state till April 30 but ‘entire teaching and non-teaching staff have to remain present in their schools like usual’.

The orders say, ‘Samooh teaching atey non-teaching amna aam dina vaang aapniyan sansthavan vich haazir rahega’. (Entire teaching and non-teaching staff, like routine days, will remain present at the institutions of their posting).

As Covid cases started surging in March, schools were declared closed for students on March 12 but teachers were told to report as usual.

Dharamjit Singh, a government teacher from Ludhiana said that during the first Covid wave last year, teachers had to come schools for three hours only. “When schools were reopened for short time in phased manner from October to February this year, working hours were extended to usual six hours. But now even after schools have been closed again for students since March 12, teachers are still reporting for full six hours which is unfair seeing the unprecedented Covid surge in the state,” he said.

The move to call teachers physically at present, has also invited sharp criticism from the families who are taking on social media to raise the issue.

Nikita Azad, whose mother is a government teacher, posted on Twitter, ‘My mum is a headteacher at a govt primary school in Punjab. She is still required to go every single day. “PunjabGovtIndia what is wrong with you? Close schools now!’

Azad further said, “Punjab government has ordered its teachers to deliver online classes from within their institutions. They are expected to travel using public transport and put themselves and their families at risk. This is totally reckless attitude and life threatening for teachers and their families.”

Meanwhile, some teachers who reside in containment zones, said they were not being allowed to move out of their areas by authorities due to restrictions and were being marked ‘absent’ in the schools.

“We are ready to go for duty but police doesn’t allow us to move out of our colony because it is a containment zone and in the school, we are being marked absent. What is our fault in this,” said a teacher from Dugri area of Ludhiana.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Vijay Inder Singla, Punjab school education minister said that teachers were being called to schools as they have to distribute books for the new session and complete other administrative works.

“Students will be able to concentrate on online studies only if they will have books. So, teachers are being called for distributing books and also enrolling new students who are coming to government schools for admission.”

“If any teacher living in containment zone is being marked absent, we will review their case at district level,” said Singla.

Till now, two government teachers from district Ludhiana have died due to Covid-19. Tejinder Kaur (40) from government senior secondary school village Ghalib Kalan of Jagraon, had died in January this year, while Rajinder Kaur (47) from government high school village Sehala of Samrala died in March.

Teachers said that they were still ready to report on duty but working hours should be reduced from six to four as online classes can be conducted from homes also and they should be called on rotation basis (50% staff in a day).

Education minister Singla claimed that teachers were being called to schools in “phased manner”. But teachers denied and said, “All teachers are coming to school every single day. No rotation rule is being followed.”

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