Pune Municipal Corporation’s pregnant and nursing teachers express concerns over COVID-19 surveying duty
Pune

Pune Municipal Corporation’s pregnant and nursing teachers express concerns over COVID-19 surveying duty

By Prajakta Joshi

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Pune: Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has deployed several teachers working at the Municipality schools to conduct door-to-door surveys for surveying the people for coronavirus. However, the teachers who are pregnant or breastfeeding their child have raised concerns over the safety.

Some of the teachers are getting treatment for some serious illnesses, and they too have been asked to conduct the door-to-door survey despite being at high risk of catching the disease.

“I have a small child that I am nursing. My husband is also working full-time in the medical field, and there is no one to take care of the baby, as our caretaker left the city before the lockdown. I fear for the safety of my child, as there is no way I can remain isolated from the baby after I go back home,” said a PMC school teacher on condition of anonymity.

She said that despite repeated requested to the PMC Commissioner, cases like hers were still not exempted from the duty.

“We have demanded that the orders given to the teachers with genuine difficulties should be cancelled,” said Sachin Dimble of Maharashtra Rajya Prathmik Shikshak Sangh, Pune City.

“The PMC Education Department has blindly provided the names of their younger teachers without checking into anyone’s ground. How can they ask those with nursing babies or those on medical leave to join?” he questioned.

However, additional municipal commissioner Rubal Agarwal said that those with genuine problems would not be forced to come in anyway, but those who do not have any problems must report to duty.

“All the 300 teachers we have deployed would not have these problems. Those with genuine difficulties should come to us, and they will be exempted. But others need to report to duty immediately,” she said.

Insufficient hygiene products?
Many teachers who have started the door-to-door survey said that they have not been provided with sufficient safety products.

“We all have been given two disposable masks each, but just a single sanitiser to use amongst three teachers. We are told to survey in the areas where people with foreign travel history are residing, and where infected cases have been found. We have to cover 50 houses every day,” a PMC teacher told Sakal Times.

However, Agarwal said that the products provided to the teachers are sufficient.

“We understand the safety concerns, and we have accordingly provided the teachers with the necessary material,” she added.

Teachers out of Pune
Dimble also added that several teachers had already left Pune to visit their hometowns and native places as school holidays were declared before complete lockdown.

“Now these teachers are unable to come back to Pune, as district borders and city borders have been sealed. Yet, they are being given notices,” Dimble said.

Another PMC teacher who was on maternity leave said, “My maternity leave got over after the lockdown was announced, so I am unable to come back to Pune now. I have sent an application, but I am scared of being asked to join and conduct these surveys, as I am afraid of putting my infant child at risk.”

PMC Municipal Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad said that many teachers have not yet started working despite giving orders to them, and action will be taken against them.

“We are likely to suspend all teachers who want to avoid duty on any imaginary issue before starting work. I have met all of them, and told them about it,” he said.

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