Published: 23rd November 2020
Odisha schools which were temporary COVID centres still unclean, lack of hygiene worry teachers
While TMCs have been closed and the buildings vacated for reopening of schools, nothing has been done to clean them up and make them ready for academic activities
Even as teachers have returned to schools for carrying out academic duties since the last one week on directions of the School and Mass Education (SME) department, the prevailing conditions in the institutions have become a cause of concern for all. Most of the schools were converted into temporary medical centres where migrant workers were accommodated a few months back.
While TMCs have been closed and the buildings vacated for reopening of schools, nothing has been done to clean them up and make them ready for academic activities. The headmaster of a high school in Balikuda said the building was littered with pillows and other items used by the inmates. The toilets were not cleaned and items like masks and gloves lay scattered everywhere.
He said the teachers are wary of getting infected while working in such conditions but have no other option. As many as 5,500 teachers of 272 high schools and 1,148 primary schools in the district have rejoined duty and spending six to seven hours under unhygienic conditions at the institutions. On November 4, the S&ME department had instructed collectors, district education officers and block education officers to coordinate with the district rural development agency (DRDA) and block officials to clean and repair the schools and hostels within 15 days.
However, nothing was done in this regard. A few teachers of schools in rural areas took up the matter with the local sarpanch and elected representatives but the latter expressed their helplessness stating funds for the purpose has not yet been granted by the Panchayati Raj department. President of sarpanch association, Balikuda, Niranjan Panda said sarpanches of several panchayats have not yet received funds (ranging from Rs 1 to Rs 2 lakh) for maintenance of the temporary medical centres which have now been closed.
Similarly, funds ranging from Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000 have not yet been granted by the government as a result of which they are unable to buy sanitiser, hand wash and soap. District education officer Sapani Kumar Jena refused to comment on the matter.