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Two headmasters transferred for violating coronavirus prevention guidelines in Kolkata

KOLKATA: Headmasters of two state-run schools here have been transferred for allegedly violating coronavirus prevention guidelines during distribution of rice and potato under mid-day meal scheme.

The West Bengal Board of Secondary Education on Monday evening transferred the headmasters – Parimal Bhattacharya of Jadavpur Vidyapith and Kazi Mausam Akhtar of Swarnamoyee Vidyapith, Garia – for violating the school education department guidelines framed in the wake of coronavirus pandemic.

In separate letters to the two teachers, the WBBSE said, the headmasters had made “clear violation” of government guidelines which had stipulated only guardians would be allowed to collect rice and potato, 2 kg for each student, for a month, and not students “in view of the emergent situation”.

Instead, the two headmasters, during the mid-day meal rice distribution programme at their respective schools on Monday, did not prevent some students from collecting the commodities, the letter said.

It was a “clear violation of government directives and a serious case of dereliction of duty,” the letter signed by WBBSE president Kalyanmoy Ganguly said.

While Akhtar was transferred to Haranath High School Boys in Baghbazar, Bhattacharya was transferred to Rani Bhavani High School, Beadon Street, “to ensure free and fair inquiry” launched against the two, the letter said.

Both Baghbazar and Beadon Street are in north Kolkata.

The move follows the statement of state Education minister Partha Chatterjee that if any school was found to have flouted any guidelines framed by the school education department during the distribution of rice and potato among guardians under mid-day meal programme, “strict action will be taken.”

Chatterjee had said this after he was asked about allegations that some guardians were seen not wearing masks while collecting the commodities and some of the students had accompanied their guardians to the schools.

While the school authorities refuted the charge of some guardians not wearing masks, they pleaded helplessness to the media in preventing some students from accompanying their guardians.

The authorities of the two educational institutes had claimed that no coronavirus prevention guidelines were violated during the distribution of rice and potato which were handed over only to the guardians and not their accompanying children.

The minister had earlier asserted there will be zero tolerance to issues like safety of children in the wake of the prevailing situation due to coronavirus outbreak.

Meanwhile, the distribution of rice and potato got over in thousands of schools across the state by 3 pm on Monday.

The district inspectors of schools had asked the authorities of state-run and state-aided schools to keep their premises open from March 21 to March 23 to facilitate the distribution of rice and potato for the children.

With the state government announcing complete safety restrictions across most parts of West Bengal from 5 pm on March 23, the school education department had said the midday meal distribution programme will have to be wrapped up by Monday.

The West Bengal government on Saturday had asked all state-run schools, that are shut till April 15 because of the coronavirus outbreak, to open the institutes till Monday to facilitate quick distribution of mid-day meals to children.