New Delhi : The central government has allowed universities, closed since March due to COVID-19 pandemic, to reopen for physical classes but with conditions. These include reducing the strength of students per class, having a six-day week schedule to accommodate more students, having isolation centres in universities and allowing only one student in each hostel room.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) on Thursday issued guidelines for the universities and colleges for reopening their campuses. These guidelines have been vetted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Education. The UGC said the guidelines may be adopted by the institutions as per local conditions and directives of the government authorities.
The universities and colleges outside the containment zones can be opened in a graded manner after consultations with concerned State/UT Governments and subject to adherence to the guidelines/SOP for safety and health protocol. Social distancing, use of face masks and other protective measures.
To begin with library, research laboratories and courses for research programmes, post-graduate classes in science and technology programmes can begin since they have comparatively less students and norms of physical distancing and preventive measures can be easily enforced.
Further, final year students can also be allowed to join for academic and placement purposes, as per the decision of the head of the institution.
However, it has to be ensured that not more than 50 per cent of the total students should be present at any point of time and necessary guidelines/protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are in place. For other programmes, online/distance learning shall continue to be the preferred mode of teaching and shall be encouraged.
However, if required, students may visit their respective departments in a small number for consultation with the faculty members, after seeking prior appointments to avoid crowding, while maintaining physical distancing norms and other safety protocols.
To those students who opt not to attend classes and prefer to study online while staying at home, institutions may provide online study material and access to e-resources. Institutions should have a plan ready for international students who could not join the programme due to international travel restrictions or visa-related issues. Online teaching-learning arrangements should also be made for them.
Hostels may be opened only in such cases where it is necessary while strictly observing the safety and health preventive measures. However, the sharing of rooms may not be allowed in hostels. Symptomatic students are not be permitted to stay in the hostels under any circumstances.
A pre-requisite condition before the reopening of any campus is that, the Central or concerned State Government must have declared the area safe for opening of educational institutions. Guidance for counselling and mental health is also provided in the guidelines.