The physical stamina of teachers has gone down with two years of online classes, heads of several schools said.
Moving from one building to another, sometimes with no elevators, taking class with a mask on at a time when the temperature is going up and other tasks that teachers handled without breaking a sweat earlier are exhausting them now, they said.
The teachers need time “to get back to their usual form”, a headmaster said.
Like students, teachers, too, had several advantages during online class. They could take breaks and did not have to travel to school early every day.
“Some teachers have forgotten that they have hall duty, ground duty or dispersal duty and that they cannot press a button, log off and think that their duty is over. We have conducted repeated meetings to tell them that students are back on campus and they have to be on their toes,” said John Bagul, principal, South City International School.
Online, they could sit and take all their classes but now they have to move from one end of the building to another with laptop and books, Bagul said.
The reopening was sudden for some as in-person classes resumed at short notice.
The resumption of physical classes when the pandemic is still not over has increased teachers’ duties. At least two schools are asking teachers to be on campus before the children come.
Coming to school means not just being on time but being formally dressed, too.
“Online, once the device was turned off, they could take a break in between classes. But now it is different because we want them to be more vigilant,” said Suvina Shunglu, principal, Sri Sri Academy.
Addressing a class of 40-45 students in-person is strenuous. Online, they could ask the students to mute their devices. “The teacher has to scream at the top of her voice to settle or calm the class down, something that they became unused to in the last two years,” said Terence John, the principal of Julien Day School, Kalyani.
In some schools, teachers are carrying water bottles with them to the classroom because taking a class for 30 to 40 minutes with a mask on is a strain on the vocal cords.
In one school, a head noticed the teacher taking off her mask before a lecture, “something that is not permissible but yet the exhaustion is making teachers do so,” he said.
Some heads said that the mental alignment of teachers to the new system has not yet happened and that is taking a toll on them physically.