Lecturers from government and aided degree colleges are in a dilemma over whether to report for COVID-19 duty that the State government has assigned to them or go to colleges for examination duty. With teachers on COVID-19 duty, many colleges are finding it difficult to conduct the final-year undergraduate examination that began last week, and are facing a shortage of invigilators.

Besides being posted for exam duty, teachers have to conduct online classes and take part in the admission process, among other duties. District officials are using them for contact tracing, uploading data, and for other field work.

A geography lecturer of a government degree college in Bengaluru said principals were continuously urging them to return to college, while the district officials have been asking them to work for one more week with assurances that they will be relieved soon. “When we ask our seniors to relieve us from COVID-19 duty, they tell us that action can be taken against us under the Disaster Management Act if we do not comply with the orders,” said the lecturer.

At the same time, colleges that are finally getting back on track say they need more staff for examination duty as several safety protocols have to be followed in the backdrop of the pandemic.

Another teacher pointed said many of them have taken up work on the field and are requesting officials to conduct a COVID-19 test before they report to their colleges.

T.M. Manjunath, president, Karnataka Government College Teachers’ Association, said even though the Chief Secretary had written to all the Deputy Commissioners last week to relieve lecturers from COVID-19 duty, several districts are yet to do so. “We hope that the officials concerned will immediately ensure that teachers no longer have COVID-19 duties,” he said.

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