THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With the state government having entrusted the police with frontline Covid-19 containment duty, government and aided school teachers deployed at various first-line treatment centres are demanding that they be relieved from additional duty.The reason? Teachers say, once their Covid duty is done with, the education department asks them to engage in activities like the school admission process, teaching and clearing doubts of students through WhatsApp after virtual class sessions. This multi-tasking creates a hectic schedule which leaves teachers with little time to take care of family matters. Teachers want to be relieved either from normal education-related duty or from Covid-19 duty.
The Kerala Higher Secondary Teachers Union is planning to write formally to the government seeking a change in the current work arrangement, the union general secretary Shoukathali told TNIE.“Each district has deployed teachers from various governments and aided schools for Covid-19 duty. Teachers have come under a lot of stress and they hardly find time to care for children and elders. The government should come up with a solution to relieve their stress,” he said.
School teachers are now working as volunteers at various CFLTCs and airports. Their responsibilities include supervising arrangements for Covid patients, marking their attendance, collating data and manning control room desks to attend to emergency phone calls. “My Covid duty is scheduled from 8am to 4pm,” says Seethalakshmi S, a teacher with an aided school in the capital. “Later I have to clear the doubts of students in my school. And after the entire work, I am unable to attend to my personal matters. I am not against the government’s efforts to contain the virus spread. But my family includes two elderly persons and I need to look after them.”
She is among around 10,000 teachers from various government and aided schools who have been asked to help with the government efforts to tackle the outbreak at the cost of their domestic matters. The Covid duty for teachers is scheduled in three shifts of eight hours each. After a shift, they need to teach students as directed by the school authorities. Many teachers also need to prepare content for online classes and assignments for the next day on WhatsApp.
Teachers were called up for Covid containment work as people began arriving in large numbers from abroad and other states from the first week of May. The general education department had ordered deputy directors to deploy teachers as per the request of district collectors without derailing the academic calendar. The order said schools should maintain 50 per cent of teaching staff to ensure a smooth conduct of online classes and to complete the admission procedure.
Govt order based on KDMA needs: Officer
General education secretary A Shahjahan cited a government order in March stating that all government officers, including teachers, should be on Covid duty which was issued in March. Hence, there will be no deviation from that order, he told TNIE. “The government order was issued based on the requirements of the Kerala Disaster Management Authority. The district collectors can ask for the services of teachers from district education officers who prepare the list of teachers. So far, no complaints have been received. The government will ensure that teachers’ work isn’t affected,” he said.