Ashok Keshari, the Hindi department head of DPS Megacity, said: “In our school, 370 students will appear in the Boards. Even in smaller schools, there will be around 150 candidates. The teachers are exposed to a large section of students. Even the parents accompanying the candidates will be around the exam centres. We are urging the government to ensure that the teachers get the vaccine before the exams.”
Any compulsory service should qualify as essential service. Giving service providers the option of the jab does not only help them but also the larger population.
Principal Indrani Sanyal added that even those above 45 can’t receive the vaccine because they do not have co-morbidities. “The teachers as well as the non-teaching staff should receive the vaccine. Now, they are frontline worriers as well. With the Board exams coming up, they have to travel long distances, interact with students and are at higher risk. We are requesting the government to make it mandatory for teachers to take the Covid vaccine,” Sanyal said.
Some school heads pointed out that they were trying to involve teachers with no co-morbidities and with less risk issues in the Board exams. “We have decided not to give exam duties to teachers above 60,” said a school principal in central Kolkata.
Leena Roy, biology teacher of the Central Modern School in Baranagar, is in the process of receiving the vaccine. “But, we are concerned that there will be considerable risk involved when we have to interact with so many students,” she said.
Among higher education institutes, the Bhowanipore Gujarati Education Society has announced reimbursement of the cost of vaccines will for teachers and support staff as wellas their parents and kids. The institution has distributed the reimbursement forms. “We expect that a similar approach will be taken by the school authorities for teachers who are committed to invigilation duties. But no such effort has been taken yet,” rued a senior school teacher.
South Point School spokesperson Krishna Damani said several teachers have been given external duties where they will have to travel to another city and stay for a few days. “We are urging the government to modify rules and treat teachers and invigilators, along with other staffers involved with the Board exams, as frontline workers and arrange for their vaccination,” Damani said.