The guidelines issued by the UGC also talks about counselling and the mental health of the students.
The guidelines issued by the UGC do not talk anything especially about the attendance of the students. (Photo source: IE)
Universities and colleges across the country were closed even before the nationwide lockdown to curb the outbreak of the coronavirus was imposed in March. After several phases of unlock announced by the Centre, the University Grant Commission has now issued guidelines for their reopening across the country. These guidelines provide detailed information about measures that need to be taken by Higher Educational Institutions before allowing physical classes inside campuses. It also talks about the safety measures that should be taken by such institutions at entry and exit points at different locations inside the campuses for example in the classrooms, in the hostels, and at other learning sites. The guidelines issued by the UGC also talks about counselling and the mental health of the students.
The Union government has already asked states to decide about reopening of schools as well as higher education institutes in a phased manner considering the situation in areas where these institutes are located. The order stated that reopening can start after October 15 but the actual timing for it will be decided by each state individually.
Some states have already started the phased reopening of schools. Several states started making announcements about the reopening of universities and colleges of late. For instance, state governments of Haryana and Punjab have already allowed higher education institutes to start in-person classes after November 16. However, West Bengal has asked such institutions to plan for classes inside campuses in December.
But in the case of central universities, the head of each institution can take a final call on reopening, based on “the viability of the opening of in-person classes”.
Not more than 50 per cent allowed at any point in time
The guidelines issued by the UGC clearly states that in the case of reopening, not more than 50 per cent of the total students should be present at any point in time inside the campuses. Also, it asked all institutions to strictly follow the necessary guidelines and protocols of social distancing in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The higher education regulator also said that universities and colleges should first call back students of all research and post-graduate programmes in science & technology as their number is relatively less and preventive measures like social distancing and use of face masks can be easily enforced.
“Final-year undergraduate students can be allowed to visit campuses for placement purposes,” the guidelines state. Other students must be encouraged for online classes and should be allowed to meet faculty members in smaller groups with prior appointments.
No clear guidelines on attendance
The guidelines issued by the UGC do not talk anything especially about the attendance of the students. It only says that “some students may opt not to attend classes.” The higher education regulator said that institutions may provide access to online study material and e-resources to such students.
“Institutions must have a plan ready for students living abroad. This is because they won’t be able to join the programme because of visa-related issues and international travel restrictions,” the guidelines further state.
Apart from this, the UGC guidelines discourage cultural activities and meetings. It also asked institutions to avoid reopening of hotels. Even if it has to be done, it must be ensured that no one is allowed to share a room. This clearly means that hostellers will not be allowed to return to the campuses.