Q: Were you involved in any pandemic-related tasks given by the authorities beyond learning activities?
Block Education Officer (BEO): In my Block, pandemic-related tasks were not given to teachers or officials. However, in other blocks, teachers have been involved in making sure that traffic rules are followed. Some teachers were also allotted duties in the quarantine centres.
As far as I know, teachers are still doing pandemic tasks.
Q: Did you regularly go to school (or office) during the period of April to June?
BEO: Block Education Offices were completely closed in April. We were doing all administration work from home. We were informed in May that offices will open with 50 per cent staff capacity. Now, since June, offices have been allowed to operate at 100 per cent staff capacity, and all administration work has started.
Q: What instructions have you been receiving from the authorities regarding Mid-Day Meals (MDM) and food distribution for students?
BEO: Children who have bank accounts are getting a sum of money instead of MDM via Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT). Parents are being given cash if there is no bank account. Ensuring precautions and social distancing norms, parents are also called to the school to collect rice grains. Some teachers are going from door-to-door to distribute rice grains.
Q: What precautions are you going to take once the school reopens? What instructions are you planning to give to the school staff on managing students, MDM, etc.?
BEO: We have not received any instructions regarding the reopening of school as of now, neither do we know how learning activities are going to start. I think it is possible to ensure physical distance among students of the primary section because they are less in number. However, we might need to call the middle school students in shifts because they are more in number.
Serving MDM in school might have to be stopped for a while. However, guidelines will be clearer once we get some instructions.
Q: Is there any initiative so far to enroll children of returning migrants?
BEO: We have not received any instructions regarding this from the department. If we receive anything, we will definitely implement it in the Block.
This interview was conducted with a Block Education Officer (BEO) in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh in Hindi on 24 July 2020, and has been translated.