UGC guidelines on re-opening colleges: Classes in shifts, longer hours

UGC guidelines on re-opening colleges: Classes in shifts, longer hours
Abhay Anand | Nov 5, 2020 - 6:43 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued guidelines for reopening universities and colleges. As per the guidelines, the universities and colleges located outside the containment zones may be opened in phases after consultations with states and Union Territories.

The UGC has suggested various measures to be taken for safe reopening of institutions. Union education minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ announced the guidelines thorough a video message on Twitter and said: “The UGC is issuing detailed guidelines for the reopening of universities and colleges, in line with the process of gradually opening the lockdown issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs for COVID-19 pandemic.”

The decision for the reopening of centrally funded institutions will be taken by the head of the institution after satisfying herself/himself regarding the feasibility of the opening of physical classes. “For all other Higher Educational Institutions, e.g., State Universities, Private Universities, Colleges etc., the opening of physical classes to be done as per the decision of the respective State/UT Governments,” reads UGC Guidelines.

The UGC reopening guidelines also states that it should be ensured that not more than 50% of the total students should be present at any point of time and necessary protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 must be followed.

UGC guidelines: Phased re-opening

The UGC has asked institutions to also prepare a plan 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” it reads.

The UGC guidelines suggest that only research and postgraduate students be allowed back in to begin with. Final-year students sitting for placements may be allowed as well. It has suggested extending teaching hours, following a six-day week and reducing class sizes and holding classes in shifts to allow for social distancing in colleges and universities.

Earlier in April, the UGC issued guidelines for examinations and academic calendar for the Universities which was later revised and second guidelines were issued on July 6. These guidelines covered important dimensions related to examinations, academic calendar, admissions, online teaching-learning, and provided flexibility for adoption by the universities.

It issued a third set of guidelines in September on the academic calendar for the first year of under-Graduate and post-graduate students.

Pokhriyal has requested all educational institutions, students, parents and all those associated with education to ensure compliance to MHA guidelines.

UGC guidelines re-opening hostels

Regarding reopening of hostels, the guidelines state they may be opened only in such cases where it is necessary while strictly observing the safety and health preventive measures. It reads: “However, the sharing of rooms may not be allowed in hostels. Symptomatic students should not be permitted to stay in the hostels under any circumstances.”

As per the guidelines, only those universities and colleges will be allowed to open which are outside the containment zones. “Further, students and staff living in containment zones will not be allowed to attend the colleges. Students and staff shall also be advised not to visit areas falling within containment zones,” it reads.

The guidelines also ask institutions to make adequate arrangements of thermal scanners, sanitizers, face masks at all entry and exit points, including the reception area. It mentions: “Crowding must be avoided at entry/ exit points. Staggered timings of entry and exit with limited strength for different programmes should be followed.”

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