Teachers find daily commuting difficult in the absence of normal local train services. They have raised the issue by asking how they could travel to and from schools when local suburban train services are restricted to those for working in the essential services sector.
This opposition has come after the state School Education Department on October 29 released a government resolution (GR) directing 50 percent attendance for teaching and non-teaching staff in all the schools across Maharashtra.
School teachers said how they are supposed to travel when the state has not permitted male teachers to commute by local trains in Mumbai.
Rajesh Pandya, a senior teacher and vice-president of Teachers Democratic Front (TDF), said, "The state has not given any direction permitting male teachers to commute by local trains. How are we supposed to reach our schools without train services as majority teachers commute by trains?"
On the other hand, the railway authorities have permitted all women, even those not from essential services, to travel in local trains during non-peak hours from 11 am to 3 pm and 7 pm onwards.
Malvika Niranjan, a school teacher, said, "Even if women are allowed to travel by local trains, why should we risk our safety as the chances of COVID-19 infection are much higher. Also, what if we need to travel outside the permitted time slots some day?"
The state School Education Department mentioned that COVID-19 safety measures and standard operating procedures (SOPs) need to be maintained in schools. But teachers have opposed the compulsion to physically attend schools when there are no students present as classes are being conducted online.
Ashish Sawant, another teacher, said, "Firstly, the state government should resume adequate modes of public transport for all teachers. Secondly, the state should not force teachers to physically attend school when students are attending virtual classes from home."
Pandya said, "We appeal to the state school education department to call teachers to schools after the Diwali vacation once schools reopen and students start attending classes."