Coronavirus: Colleges, universities could re-open soon as UGC releases guidelines
Shut for months, due to coronavirus outbreak, the higher educational institutions could be re-opened soon, as the University Grants Commission (UGC) on Thursday issued guidelines for the same. The institutions that are outside the containment zones will be allowed to function, UGC said. Moreover, the re-opening will happen in phases, with classes for research students beginning first, followed by masters and final-year undergraduate students.
As per UGC guidelines, at any given time, the number of students attending classes on campus should not exceed half of the total student strength. The regulator also suggested extending teaching hours and a six-day schedule to ensure social distancing guidelines are respected. The elementary guidelines like wearing a mask, disinfecting the premises, and screening staff and students were also mentioned.
The guidelines allowed Vice-Chancellors to decide whether centrally-run higher education institutions shall resume operations. The decision concerning state universities and colleges were left to respective state governments. "The directions, instructions, guidelines and orders issued by the Central and State Government concerned regarding safety and health in view of COVID-19 must be fully abided by the higher education institutions," read the guidelines.
UGC asked the institutions to tweak their infrastructure. Isolation facilities for symptomatic persons and quarantine rooms for those who came in contact with positive persons should be set up. "Or a tie-up may be made in advance with some government hospital or approved premises or as advised by the local authorities so that, in case of necessity, prompt action may be taken," UGC added.
About hostels, UGC said they can only be opened if it's "necessary" while following all safety precautions. "The sharing of rooms may not be allowed in hostels. Symptomatic students should not be permitted to stay in the hostels under any circumstances," the guidelines underlined. Institutions were asked to prepare a plan for foreign students, whose classes were hampered due to travel restrictions.
UGC said students of research programs and post-graduate students in science and technology programs can come to classes. It said these courses don't attract a large number of students hence distancing guidelines can be easily enforced. "Final year students may also be allowed to join for academic and placement purposes, as per the decision of the head of the institution," UGC went on.
Last evening, Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' wrote about UGC guidelines on Twitter. "It is a request to all educational institutions, students, parents, and all those associated with the education world to ensure compliance of these guidelines for the survival and bright future of themselves and others," he said. All universities were shut on March 16, days before the nationwide lockdown was imposed.
सभी शैक्षणिक संस्थानों, विद्यार्थियों, अभिभावकों तथा शिक्षा जगत से जुड़े सभी लोगों से आग्रह है कि वे स्वयं की तथा दूसरों की जीवन रक्षा एवं उज्ज्वल भविष्य हेतु इन दिशा निर्देशों का अनुपालन सुनिश्चित करें।— Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank (@DrRPNishank) November 5, 2020