Updated: February 9, 2021 10:26:12 am
Colleges and universities across the country have started reopening after being closed since March 2020 due to the pandemic. However, re-opened colleges will be different from what they used to be. To ensure COVID-safety, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued special guidelines for higher education institutes. As per these guidelines, the universities or college campuses will not have more than 50 per cent of students at any given time, teaching hours in a day may be extended, and the field trips and outside college activities will be reduced.
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UGC has asked colleges to mandate regular visits of a counsellor to ensure mental wellness and stress-free campuses. Universities and colleges have also been asked to restrict the outside experts on campuses, study tours, field works etc. It should be made mandatory for the teachers, officers, staff and students to wear the identity cards. The faculty, staff and students of the university and college “should be encouraged to download ‘Aarogya Setu App’”, as per the guidelines.
“The new academic session is going on and the universities and colleges need a customised plan, as per the local conditions where they are located, to deal with any eventuality arising due the COVID -19 before resuming activities on campuses. Besides above, reopening of universities and colleges will relieve the students from uncertainties regarding their career, mode of functioning of universities and colleges, including the conduct of physical classes. Also, it will relieve teaching and other staff from any uncertainty regarding the continuity of their services and salary etc,” UGC said in an official letter to heads of universities and higher education institutes.
Only universities and colleges outside the containment zones will be allowed to re-open. Further, students and staff living in this zones will not be allowed to attend the colleges. Students and staff shall also be advised not to visit areas falling within containment zones, as per the guidelines.
Among those universities which reopen, not more than 50 per cent of the total students should be present at any point of time. Preference will be given to students of all research programmes and postgraduate students in science and technology programmes. For the rest of the streams, and foreign students, online classes will continue.
Attending physical classes will not be mandatory and UGC has asked institutions to have a plan ready for such international or Indian students who could not join the physical campuses.
For those who have tested positive, isolation facilities should be in place either on campus itself or as a prior arrangement with some nearby hospital(s) Isolation facilities for symptomatic persons and quarantine facilities for those who were in contact with the positively tested persons should be there, as per guidelines.
Teaching hours in a day may be extended, as per requirements of the institution. Six-day schedule may be followed so that classes can be conducted in phases and the seating arrangement be made keeping in view the requirements of physical distancing. Universities and colleges may consider reducing the class size and break them in multiple sections to maintain physical distancing during the classes, as per the guidelines.
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