Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia on Monday issued orders to scale down the present deployment of teachers on Covid-19 duty so that they can report back to schools that reopened on Monday for students of classes 10 and 12. Sisodia, who holds the education portfolio, asked the chief secretary to issue the necessary directions to all district magistrates.

“It has been brought to my notice that about 20,000-25,000 teachers are currently posted with district authorities for Covid-related duties. Considering the importance of education and the present status of the Covid situation in Delhi, district authorities to substantially scale down the present level of deployment and direct the teachers to report back to schools for their regular duties,” said an order passed by Sisodia on Monday.

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Schools in the national Capital have been closed since March last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and teachers were deployed on various Covid-related duties, including managing quarantine and isolation centres, engaging in door-to-door surveys and enforcing Covid protocols.

Last week, after the Delhi government allowed schools to reopen for students of classes 10 and 12, several principals had expressed concerns about managing classes as teachers remained deployed on Covid-19 duties. Ajay Veer Singh, the general secretary of government school teachers’ association, said, “It will be a mere formality if schools reopen without sufficient staff. We can’t call students back to schools after 10 months and not have enough teachers to guide them.”

“Due to the unprecedented once-in-a-lifetime nature of the pandemic, it was the collective responsibility of every official of Government of Delhi including teachers of Delhi to perform emergency Covid-related duties,” Sisodia said in the order Monday. “However, considering the upcoming board examinations, Delhi government has decided to commence special classes including practical examination, pre-board examinations for class 10 and 12 students from Monday.”

The education minister also said, “Going forward discretion is necessary in summoning the services of the teachers so that education activities, which the teachers are originally mandated to discharge, are not seriously disrupted.”

In the order passed Monday, the Delhi government has also stated that teachers will only be used for Covid-related duties after consulting the Directorate of Education.

The district authorities have been directed “not to summon the services of any teacher for any administrative/field related work, other than Covid-related duties. If in any emergency situation the district authorities feel the necessity of deploying teachers, the prior permission of education minister shall be mandatory for engagement of teachers in such work.”

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