Teachers, head of school from the Delhi government’s education department among four awarded for Covid relief efforts

In the past year, teachers, principals and administrators from the Delhi government’s education department taught themselves to teach online, run Covid testing and food distribution centres, administer the movement of migrants out of the capital, and also deal with the loss of colleagues to the virus. Among those who had received the State Teachers Awards from the government on Friday were four who were recognised for their efforts in the face of the pandemic.

Usha Gupta, SKV, Hari Nagar
A science teacher for classes VI to X, Gupta had to go through an entirely new learning journey last year, after 28 years of teaching, to engage her students. “ Since I’m not very tech-savvy, I had to ask my children — both in their 20s — to teach me how to use PowerPoint better and make videos; I started making and sending videos to my students every day,” she said.
Her students were receiving worksheets from the department but it is her home-made videos that kept them engaged. For instance, to teach students about acids and bases, she used some litmus paper she happened to have in her purse and made videos of experiments on it with kitchen items like turmeric, curd, lemon and soap. “I also watched YouTube videos and learnt to make puppets with paper, so I could make videos with one puppet asking a question and the other answering. It kept students motivated… some even made their own videos and sent them to me,” she said.

Bhupender Kumar,
GBSSS No. 1, JJ Colony, Bawana
“From March 31 to today, I have not had a single holiday. Even before I went to get my award, I held meetings with ASHA workers at four dispensaries to mobilise people to take the vaccine,” said Kumar, a science teacher. He has been an active part of relief and Covid-related measures and also became in charge of many of these activities in the Narela sub-division as he is a local, has a vehicle and showed initiative.
“I’ve been part of activities such as testing of migrants before their travel to their states, setting up containment zones, conducting door-to-door surveys… Currently, I’m working to mobilise more people to take the vaccine by doing counselling and speaking to influential people in localities,” he said. His students call from time to time seeking help. “There is little time, but I ask them to call me after 9 pm so we can discuss doubts,” he said.

Krapa Shankar Upadhyay, DDE, East District

As deputy director of education of a district bordering UP, Upadhyay said the first few months of the lockdown — when there was a large-scale movement of migrants at the border — were a time of immense pressure. “We had experienced more flux than any other district. All 114 schools were taken over to address the issue. They functioned as food distribution centres and night shelters… we worked from morning to midnight and it was a herculean task,” he said.
As the entire education department in the district trained their efforts in this direction, Upadhyay also felt the need to motivate and cheer them up. “We lost four of our colleagues — two heads of schools, a teacher and a sanitation worker. Many others got Covid,” he said.

Satish Khanna, HOS of SBV No. 1, Jheel Khuranja
In the last year, Khanna’s school doubled up as a centre for distributing cooked food twice a day, a screening centre for migrants leaving the state, a Covid testing centre, an accommodation facility for first CRPF and then BSF jawans. It reverted to being a school when class X and XII students returned in January. “Every task was very challenging and had to be done diligently… One evening, we got a call saying a room in the school has to be set up as a Covid testing centre. We completed that by midnight. But the team which arrived the next morning had different requirements; the centre required 6-7 rooms and we adapted to that. Everything was a team effort with all the teachers,” he said.

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