BHUBANESWAR: Educationists and parents have flagged concern over students’ safety with the Odisha government announcing to reopen schools for Class X and XII students from July 26. They alleged the decision to reopen schools before ensuring vaccination of teachers and staff could jeopardise the plan like the reopening of schools in January after the first wave.
What is more shocking is that neither the School and Mass Education (SME) and Higher Education departments nor the Health and Family Welfare department have any data on vaccination of teachers and other school and college employees.
While, it is a fact that some higher education institutes and schools became Covid hotspots when they were opened prior to the second wave.
Sources said Odisha has around 2.58 lakh teachers in both elementary and secondary schools. There would be around 85,000 teachers only at secondary and higher secondary levels.
Though no official data on how many have been fully vaccinated and how many have got at least a single dose is available, as per estimates by various teachers’ bodies, around 50 per cent (pc) teachers have been fully vaccinated and around 70 pc have got one dose.
Educationist Prof Pritish Acharya said every parent and teacher want the schools to reopen as there is no alternative to offline classes, but not at the risk of infection.
“Classes can resume after vaccination of all teachers and staff on priority,” he said.
The teachers have been requesting the government to prioritise vaccination for them and declare them Covid warriors as they have been engaged in different works like uniform, books and MDM distribution besides assessment and surveys. But the government has turned a blind eye to the demand.
“Vaccination of teachers should be prioritised by reducing the second dose gap as it was made for the students and sportspersons visiting abroad. Several states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi have vaccinated teachers on priority,” said Odisha Secondary School Teachers Association general secretary Prakash Mohanty said.
School reopening hasty, ensure vax for teachers first: experts
Former chairman of Council of Higher Secondary Education Basudev Chhatoi said the decision to reopen schools is a hasty one. The government should have waited till vaccination of the 18 plus age group was completed, he suggested.
“Not only the teaching and non-teaching staff, the parents of students who attend classes should also be fully vaccinated before the resumption of classes. How can parents allow their children especially when there is a threat of a third wave,” he wondered. Chairman of Odisha Parents’ Federation Basudev Bhatt warned that the government will be held responsible if any student or teacher gets infected.
The government should also supply sanitisers and masks to all schools, he demanded. While SME Secretary Satyabrata Sahu did not respond to calls and messages from TNIE, Additional Chief Secretary of Health PK Mohapatra said though there is no segregated data on vaccination, the government will prioritise inoculation of teachers and those vaccinated will take classes.
QR code-based identity card for rly vendors
Khurda Road railway division has introduced a unique system to identify authorised vendors selling food items at stations.
ECoR sources said all authorised vendors have been provided with identity card with QR code that contain all information. The I-cards issued earlier have been replaced with QR code based cards.