Sadananda*, a 45-year-old school teacher from Indi taluka in the Vijayapura district of Karnataka, was rushed to the nearest hospital on April 20 after he complained of breathlessness. After undergoing an RT-PCR test, he tested positive for the coronavirus. Sandananda’s family told TNM that he had been regularly going to school to carry out administrative duties prior to his illness. And though he received medical treatment, he passed away on April 21.
“He was complaining of fever for three-four days before his death. We got medication from a physician but when the fever persisted and he complained of breathlessness, we shifted him to the hospital. But he succumbed to the virus,” Sadananda’s brother Harsh* said.
Another teacher, Kattappa, 40, passed away on April 30 at a private hospital in Raichur, according to a ToI report. The report quoted the chief of Raichur district Teachers’ Association saying that the deceased did not have comorbidities.
As many as 268 teachers from 31 districts of Karnataka have passed away after contracting COVID-19, according to the data recorded by the Department of Public Instruction since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. The department recorded that 183 primary school teachers and 49 secondary school teachers have died due to the coronavirus. The corresponding data of government-aided schools across the state notes that 32 teachers from primary and secondary sections as well as four headmasters have succumbed to the virus. Besides them, 14 non-teaching staff members lost their lives after testing positive. The data was first reported by the Times of India.
Data was not available for unaided schools in the state.
Teachers across Karnataka have been deployed for COVID-19 duties, such as data collection from households, aside from carrying their school duties. Two teachers in Raichur district who were appointed bye-election duties in Maski constituency also succumbed to the infection. Fifty-six teachers in the district, who were posted for the poll duty, had tested positive for COVID-19.
The General Secretary of Primary School Teachers’ Association Chandrashekar Nugli said that many teachers from the government schools had been deployed for COVID-19 duty, stationed for different works such as data collection and data entry, supervising quarantined persons and COVID-19 helplines.
“The teachers have been executing these duties alongside the teaching in the online classes and in the duration succumbed to COVID-19. Many teachers who passed away last year, their families did not receive any compensation from the government; nor do they get any recognition as COVID-19 warriors,” Nugli said.
He further said that the association has written to the government asking for assistance for the teachers and their kin. Nugli added, “We submitted letters to the government in the first week of May and asked them to provide teachers with medical assistance, reservation of 10% beds for teachers as well as compensation and jobs on compassionate grounds for their kin. The teachers who passed away last year, their families have still not received any help.”
In another letter to Education Minister S Suresh Kumar, the association also asked that teachers deployed for COVID-19 duty should be administered the vaccine. “Irrespective of age, it is requested that the teachers deployed on COVID-19 should be vaccinated against the virus on priority basis,” the association wrote.