Maharashtra education department releases SOPs for teachers, non-teaching staff in state schools
After the Maharashtra government allowed 50% attendance for teachers and non-teaching staff in schools across the state, the education department has now released a set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the same.
As per the SOPs, teachers can be called to school for work related to online learning or other academic business. Schools have been asked to ensure that they sanitise their premises and regularly check temperatures. Teachers have been instructed to follow safety guidelines like wearing masks, following physical distancing, etc.
Even as teachers have been asked to attend school, physical classes will not resume for students at least until October 31. Similarly, schools need to follow the policy of “staying home if unwell” for teachers who are feeling sick – especially those who have comorbidities or are above the age of 50 years.
Responding to the SOPs, schools said that the guidelines had created a lot of confusion about the nature of attendance required. “Teaching is currently taking place online, so there is no clarity on whether teachers need to come to school even if they are teaching online from their homes. Similarly, there is no mention of the dates for Diwali vacations. Also, the government is not able to give us any funds for all the precautionary measures listed in the SOPs,” said Prashant Redij, spokesperson of the Mumbai Principals’ Association.
Rajesh Pandya, vice-president of the Teachers Democratic Front, said, “It is wrong to expect physical attendance from teachers even as they continue to hold classes for students online daily. Travelling in Mumbai is still not easy with restrictions on public transport, and teachers are unnecessarily asked to attend school when they can complete their work from home more efficiently.”
On October 7, the Maharashtra cabinet decided to physically reopen schools only post Diwali. The state education department will draw up guidelines with respect to reopening in the next few days. The state government’s extension of lockdown rules until November 30 means that schools in the state are likely to remain shut for students until then. State education minister Varsha Gaikwad said, “We will not risk the lives of students by reopening schools at once. While plans about partial reopening post Diwali are on, priority will be given on reopening higher standards [Class 9 to 12].”