Officials at the Delhi government’s education department said efforts are being made to help schools reopen amid the pandemic. (Representative Image)(Ravi Choudhary/HT Photo)
Officials at the Delhi government’s education department said efforts are being made to help schools reopen amid the pandemic. (Representative Image)(Ravi Choudhary/HT Photo)

Govt schools flag concerns over teachers on Covid duty

The Delhi government, on Wednesday, had allowed schools to call in students of classes 10 and 12 from next week so that they can prepare for the upcoming board examinations.
By Fareeha Iftikhar, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 15, 2021 03:24 AM IST

With thousands of teachers still deployed on Covid-19 related duties across the city, officials at several government schools have raised concerns of staff shortage ahead of the school reopening next week, after a gap of 10 months.

The Delhi government, on Wednesday, had allowed schools to call in students of classes 10 and 12 from next week so that they can prepare for the upcoming board examinations.

According to the government teachers’ association, at least 10,000 to 12,000 of their colleagues are on Covid-19 duties, including door-to-door surveys, vaccination drive, and identification of travellers from abroad at the airport, among others. They include primary teachers, trained graduate teachers (TGTs), and postgraduate teachers (PGTs). While TGTs can teach up to class 10, PGTs are eligible to teach classes 11 and 12.

Officials at several schools said it would be difficult for them to reopen when they are short of hands. The principal of a government school in west Delhi’s Madipur, on condition anonymity, said all their science, mathematics and social science teachers (TGTs) are currently on Covid duty. “We have one guest teacher each for science and mathematics, and there are four sections of class 10. We will have to divide one section into four in order to maintain social distancing. How can one teacher look after 16 sections? Besides, there is none available to teach social science,” the principal said.

The principal of another government school in Karawal Nagar, also on condition of anonymity, said, “Twenty-eight of our 33 permanent teachers are currently engaged in Covid-related work. This time, the reopening of schools will require more staff as we will have to divide classes into smaller sections to maintain social distancing. We are struggling to figure out a way to make do with so few teachers.”

Ajay Veer Singh, general secretary of government school teachers’ association, said they will write to the government to relieve teachers of classes 10 and 12 from Covid duty. “It will be a mere formality if schools reopen without sufficient staff. We can’t call students back to schools after 10 months and not have enough teachers to guide them.”

Officials at the Delhi government’s education department said efforts are being made to help schools reopen amid the pandemic. “We are trying to provide all possible help to schools before they reopen. Guest teachers have also been provided in many districts to bridge the gap. The zonal and district education officials are also taking several measures to help schools,” one such official said, on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, some deputy director education (DDE) offices have started asking schools for a list of teachers on Covid-19 who are required in schools. For instance, the DDE’s office of zone west-A has asked schools under its jurisdiction to provide such a list by Friday evening.

Harpreet Kaur, principal of Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya (SKV) in Tilak Nagar, said the school has provided the names of teachers they needed for reopening. “We welcome that the DDE’s office has sought details of the required staff from us.” At least 20 teachers from her school are in Covid-19 related work.

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A total of 111 cities participated in the assessment exercise that was conducted in 2020.(PTI)
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