– Dipta Joshi
A week after Mumbai’s local governing civic body, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) announced its decision to keep schools under its jurisdiction closed until December 31, the city’s school teachers are still awaiting the education department’s decision to scrap the rule mandating 50 percent physical attendance for teachers.
While the state’s education minister, Varsha Gaikwad had called for the reopening of schools across the state since November 23, the MCGM had decided against opening schools under its jurisdiction fearing a second wave of COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the city.
However, according to the rules laid out in the state department’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) (dated November 10), 50 percent of teachers across government, aided and private schools need to attend school for online learning and other academic work. As a precautionary measure, teachers were asked to undergo the RT-PCR test for detecting COVID-19 infection before attending schools. The SOP also mandated that teachers found unwell should be allowed to stay at home, especially for those above 50 years of age andthose suffering from health issues.
With Mumbai reporting over 1000 fresh cases of COVID-19 over the past two days and a high death rate of two percent, the total number of COVID-19 cases has reached 2,79,737 (November 26). School teachers’ associations believe, in such a scenario, authorities should have announced the decision to scrap the mandatory 50 percent attendance rule along with the decision to shut down schools.
“Education department authorities aren’t looking at the overall picture while taking decisions regarding schools or education in the state and thus the ad-hoc decisions. Officials need to speak with school principals since we know the ground reality and can present the issues faced by all the stakeholders – school managements, parents, teachers as well as students.
School teachers are already taking online classes and even doing most of the required paperwork from home. With no students at school, teachers using public transport to travel is a big risk,” says Prashant Redij, spokesperson of the Mumbai principal’s association. The Mumbai principal’s association has been demanding the scrapping of the rule through social media platforms.
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