School staff on train travel: Some relieved, some concerned

Mumbai: The teaching and non-teaching staff are relieved on being permitted by the railway authorities to commute by local train to their schools. On the other hand, some staff members are reluctant considering the risks of spread of Covid-19 infection due to lack of social distancing while travelling in local trains.

On November 13, the railway authorities granted permission to teachers and other non-teaching staff of schools to travel by the special suburban services run by the Western (WR) and Central Railway (CR) in the Mumbai suburban network with immediate effect. Teaching and non-teaching staff will only be allowed to commence their journey through special suburban services if they have the valid identity cards for the essential staffs identified by the state government.

Both teaching and non-teaching staff are relieved with this decision as it will ease the hassle of commute and reduce travel costs. Taufique Sadriwal, a teacher said, "I can reach my school faster by the suburban train rather than travelling by road." Suprabha Vellum, a non-teaching school staff said, "I can save additional costs which I would otherwise spend on daily commute in private transport."

Some teaching and non-teaching staff are reluctant to commute by local trains fearing Covid-19 risks. Kajal Chavan, a teacher said, "I have not travelled by local train since the last seven months. I do not want to take the risk as trains are crowded and there is no scope of maintaining social distancing."

Robin Thomas, a non-teaching school staff said, "Though the state and railway authorities has permitted us to commute by suburban trains, SOPs against Covid-19 are not maintained while travelling in local trains. It is quite risky to commute by trains especially when more and more people are allowed to travel."

The railway authorities granted permission to allow teaching and non-teaching staff to commute by suburban trains following a request made by the state government. The state has directed schools to reopen physical classes for Standard 9 to 12 from November 23.

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