The current spell of Covid or symptoms of the infection keeping teachers away from school is impacting classroom teaching, said heads of institutions. The daily functioning of school is being hampered, they said.
In the previous Covid waves, schools were closed and classes were held online. But now, teachers are required not just for taking classes but for exam invigilation, to maintain order and discipline in school and at the gates, said heads of at least two schools.The number of teachers on leave is varying from five to 10 in some schools. Some schools are having to manage with substitute teachers or even worksheets.
“With more teachers on leave, it impacts the syllabus and the normal running of the school. Teachers are required for exam invigilation duty and to maintain order in school, all of which is suffering,” said Anjana Saha, principal of Mahadevi Birla World Academy. Children are back in school after a long time and with the Covid protocols, there is more need for supervising them.
Teachers testing positive for Covid are away from school for seven days. During this time, they are unable to deliver any school duty. Over the past two years, teachers held classes online if they felt better after a couple of days.
“But we cannot ask a teacher to come back before seven days because that would put other teachers and children at risk,” said a head. In South City International School, priority is being given to teachers who want leave because of Covid or symptoms like fever.
“We have asked teachers who want to go on leave for reasons other than illness or Covid to keep it on hold for some days. If more teachers are off at the same time, it becomes increasingly difficult,” said principal John Bagul.
The school had a hard time on Friday because primary teachers who were on gate duty were unwell and had to take leave.
Schools try to manage with substitute teachers but that does not serve the purpose, teachers said.
“Substitute teachers cannot take the syllabus forward. So, what we are doing in senior classes is that the teacher who is present is taking the period of the teacher who is absent and going ahead with her own subject. When the other subject teacher would be back, she will take this teacher’s periods. But classroom teaching is getting impacted,” said Satabdi Bhattacharjee, principal of The Newtown School.
But school heads agreed that teachers who are not unwell and present are getting loaded with more work. The absence of teachers is impacting classroom teaching in junior classes as well, school heads said.
“The preprimary and primary classes have suffered enough because of online classes. Now, with the current spell of Covid, when their assigned teacher is not in class they refuse to learn. It is because they connect with their class teacher and a substitute teacher does not help much,” said Amita Prasad, director, Indus Valley World School.
Prasad said that extra classes can be held for the senior section but with the primary section that is not feasible.While schools are trying to enforce Covid protocols, students and teachers, while taking classes, are finding it difficult to keep their masks on, said a school head.
MP Birla Foundation Higher Secondary School said that they will watch the situation till the middle of next week and take a fresh call. “We want inperson classes but if the infection continues to rise, we might have to shift to online classes for a few days where teachers will be taking classes from school and children will be at home. This will help to break the chain,” said S.K. Singh, general manager, MP Birla Foundation Higher Secondary School.