Vijayawada: Though the state government has announced the re-opening of all educational institutions from November 2 onwards for the new academic year 2020-21 in compliance with Covid-19 protocols to avoid spread of the virus, majority of them are unprepared to do so as the official announcement has come at very short notice.
Chief Secretary Nilam Sawhney announced here on Thursday the state government’s decision to re-open all schools and colleges in both government and private sector from next Monday onwards.
Even as Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy hinted about the date of re-opening of educational institutions on November 2 earlier, no efforts were made to ready the institutions for re-opening.
The managements of both the government and private junior colleges were caught off guard by the official announcement on Thursday. With October 30 being a public holiday due to Milan-un-Nabi and November 1 being a Sunday, they have just two days to prepare the educational institutions, taking up sanitisation and other requisite measures as per Covid-19 protocol to re-open on Monday.
The state has nearly 2,700 junior colleges with an intake capacity of 11 lakh students, including five lakh first year students. The board of intermediate education is carrying out online admission for both first- and second-year intermediate courses from October 21 onwards and as the last date for online admission ended on October 29, it has been extended to November 6.
Out of nearly five lakh first year students in all colleges in the state, so far about one lakh have taken admission. Unless the admission of students is completed, it may not be possible to run the classes as the newcomers may miss the lessons as they arrive late. Moreover, majority of parents are unwilling to send their wards to the colleges fearing that they may get infected with Covid-19.
In addition to that, the authorities in government colleges are supposed to clean up the class rooms and sanitise them and also come up with a plan of action as to how many students are to be accommodated in each class room, maintaining social distance to avoid the spread of the virus. They need a budget allocation for arranging sanitisers and also for daily sanitisation of classrooms.
The Board of Intermediate Education (BIE) authorities maintain that they have even prepared an academic calendar and other schedules in strict compliance with Covid-19 protocol to ensure protection to students and staff from the virus.
Accordingly, the BIE has estimated the number of class rooms available and the strength of students so that it can run the colleges for science and arts streams on alternate days. They have also planned a shift system with the science stream in the morning and the arts stream in the afternoon. It plans to reduce the number of students in a classroom from 28 to 20 and less and the teacher student ratio to be maintained at 1.10 on an average. As the intermediate syllabus has been reduced by 30 per cent, the BIE is coming up with an academic calendar to complete the academic year by March 31, 2021 or to extend it by a month up to April 30.
Meanwhile, a good number of corporate colleges have already offered admission for first year students unofficially and are teaching them online. As they are residential and have a very large number of students, their managements have not yet taken any decision to re-open as it involves huge cost to dust the class rooms, sanitise them and make the students sit maintaining six feet distance and also re-open kitchens for preparation of food for hostellers.
As they sent away all Class IV employees and drivers expressing their inability to pay them wages, all of them have to be brought back to resume work. Their biggest worry is that in case of any student gets infected with Covid-19, parents will take her/him back home. This may result in all efforts made to resume classes go in vain, involving huge expenditure.
When contacted, BIE secretary, V. Rama Krishna, said “We are ready to re-open junior colleges to run classes from November 2 onwards as we have made all requisite arrangements.”...