A month on, classes suffer in Delhi as teachers continue to be on Covid duty

In view of the rising cases of Covid-19 in the national capital, hundreds of teachers, along with other government employees, were deployed on a door-to-door survey in hot spots and vulnerable areas, as well as to assist the teams that are conducting tests and contact tracing since November 19.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By Fareeha Iftikhar, New Delhi
UPDATED ON DEC 16, 2020 10:09 AM IST

With several Delhi government and municipal school teachers continuing to remain on Covid-19 related survey work for the past one month, officials of several schools said the teaching-learning process has been severely hit, and they have fewer hands to help students who are already struggling to cope with a switch to the online mode amid the pandemic.

In view of the rising cases of Covid-19 in the national capital, hundreds of teachers, along with other government employees, were deployed on a door-to-door survey in hot spots and vulnerable areas, as well as to assist the teams that are conducting tests and contact tracing since November 19. Almost a month has passed, but thousands of teachers have still not been relieved from that duty.

According to the teacher associations of both Delhi government and municipal schools, as many as 15,000 teachers of government schools and around 10,000 teachers from municipal schools are presently involved in Covid-19 related duties. This includes 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 classes and lessons have been severely hit in the past one month. A PGT at a government in Subhash Nagar, who is on a door-to-door survey duty since November 19, said, “There are two science teachers for classes 9 and 10 in my school, including myself. Both of us are on survey duty and therefore, there has been no online science class for the past one month. We are not even getting time to check the worksheets of our students.”

With schools being shut since March and classes shifting online, government institutions -- where a majority of the students do not have access to smart devices and the internet -- are dependent on worksheets or study material for virtual learning.

The principal of a government school in Yamuna Vihar, who did not wish to be identified, said 22 of the 40 teachers at their school are on survey duty. “One teacher is looking after at least for to five sections at present. It is not possible for them to correct the worksheets of all students and address queries posed by students. We took so many efforts to connect students with virtual learning in the past few months. But the complete disconnection over the past one month has adversely affected students,” he said.

Similar concerns are being raised by schools run by the three civic bodies -- east, north, and south. Vibha Singh, principal of an east MCD school in Gandhi Nagar, said all 24 teachers in her school are on Covid duty even now. “Eighteen teachers are on survey work since November 19 and six others were engaged in Covid related work even before that. Now I work by myself, along with a safai karamchari and nursery attendants. I alone distribute the worksheets to students or parents. But there is no teacher to check the worksheets that the students are submitting. There has been no evaluation of students’ work in the past month.”

Sant Ram, district secretary (West A), Government School Teachers Association (GSTA), Delhi, said, “December is the peak time for schools to cover the syllabus and take student queries. This year, we are already lagging behind because of the closure of schools and this one month has further pushed back the students. The government should consider relieving teachers from Covid duty as soon as possible.”

A senior government official, on condition of anonymity, said, “The teachers were deployed for the door-to-door survey work at a time when Covid cases were rising in the capital. Now that the situation is under control, the involvement of teachers in the survey work will be shortly reviewed.”

Officials at civic bodies said that remedial measures will be taken as soon as the teachers are relieved from survey work. Nirmal Jain, mayor of the east civic body, said, “Covid related work was our priority and hence most of the government officials were deployed on pandemic related duties. Remedial steps will surely be taken to minimise the academic loss once the teachers return to full-time school duty.”

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