Concerns are being raised from all walks of life over the daily attendance of the teachers in the empty schools with academicians and medical practitioners saying that the move puts the lives of thousands of teachers and their families at risk.
Notably, the school teachers have been asked to switch to online mode and attend their respective schools to deliver online classes for students till the educational institutions remain closed for offline academic activities.
The J&K government recently ordered temporary closure of all schools, colleges and universities besides other technical institutions for offline academic activities till May 15.
The decision was taken as a preventive measure to control further spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the teachers complained that attending school on a daily basis exposes them to risk as they travel in public transport to attend empty schools.
“We come from different places and get exposed to scores of people while reaching our schools. We are apprehensive of getting infected by the COVID-19 virus which will put the life of our colleagues and families at a risk,” said Khalid, a teacher from south Kashmir.
Another teacher said that if a single teacher gets infected with the virus, it would prove fatal for their colleagues and others who travel with them in public transport.
“It is completely futile to travel to schools and deliver online classes. We can do this job from our homes more conveniently without taking any risk of getting infected with the virus,” the teacher said.
Over the past week, more than 50 teachers have tested positive in different districts across Kashmir.
“On the one hand, the government tries to have lesser footfall in the markets and other places but on the other hand, we are forced to visit schools unnecessarily. This defeats common sense and the gatherings at schools pose a risk of infection as well,” said Irshad Ahmad, a teacher from Baramulla.
The teachers said that if the government cannot completely exempt them from attending schools, preparing rosters was an option to restrict the gathering at schools.
“The university has not made attendance of teachers on the campus mandatory and the college teachers are also attending their institutions as per the rosters,” he said.
Besides teachers, doctors have also expressed concern over the government decision to force teachers to attend the schools daily amid the surge in COVID-19 positive cases.
A senior doctor took to Twitter and confirmed that around 30 teachers tested positive since last week.
“In last one week, we came across at least 30 teachers who have contracted COVID-19 attending schools and colleges with no students. Fail to understand why risking teachers and their families, attending duties, using public transport imparting online education. STRANGE (sic),” Dr Muzaffar Maqbool, Associate Professor Internal Medicines GMC Srinagar tweeted.
Advisor to J&K Lieutenant Governor Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar told Greater Kashmir that the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) takes review of the overall situation and takes decision on all such matters.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, Director School Education Kashmir Tasaduq Husaain Mir said that he had put forth his opinion before the Administrative department regarding the matter.
“We had a meeting on it at the civil secretariat and I have given my viewpoint to the government,” he said.
Member Secretary SDMA, Simrandeep Singh told Greater Kashmir that he was not authorised to comment on the matter.
“I am just a member of SDMA. Whenever it is considered appropriate, SDMA order will be conveyed,” he said.