Officials in Kasaragod district of Kerala are preparing to double down on Covid-19 awareness campaigns at the grassroot level by utilising the services of teachers.
Since awareness has been key to Kerala’s infection control methods from the start, officials suspect public disenchantment at a time when cases are surging could lead to the disease spilling out into the community and resulting in irreversible effects.
The Kasaragod district authorities have drawn up a project titled ‘maash’ (teacher in Malayalam) as part of which teachers would spread across panchayat and municipal wards to keep a check on three basic safety measures advised for Covid-19 prevention: wear masks at all times, clean hands frequently and maintain physical distancing. The plan was devised following widespread reports of people violating the safety norms in public. This is the first time teachers, who have been spared of their duties at schools, are being engaged in awareness measures.
Kerala is already penalising people who don’t wear masks in public. A fine of Rs 200 is imposed by police for first-time offence and for repeat offenders, the fine is upgraded to Rs 5,000.
The teachers have been directed to advise people, at first, to follow safety guidelines. If they don’t mend their ways, the teachers can admonish them and even take action against them. A release of the administration said District Collector D Sajith Babu is even pondering about giving teachers the right to arrest offenders as per 1973 CrPC.
However, an education official in the district said teachers would only be warning the offenders about facing possible action. The police, she said, would have the right to make arrests.
The teachers can collect photos and other details of the offenders and send them to a WhatsApp number designated by the district administration for monitoring. The phone numbers of the teachers, who would be engaged in the mission, have been collected by the administration.
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