VCs’ reports on reopening of colleges in state to be presented before Cabinet

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Raipur, Dec 9

Vice chancellors of state-run universities across the state have submitted their reports on the reopening of universities and colleges to the Higher Education Department of Chhattisgarh government. Now, the ball is in the court of the state government to decide when and how the higher educational institutions of the state will open.

It is worth to mention, state government has set December 5 as deadline for the vice chancellors to submit their reports on the reopening of the colleges and universities. As the report is now submitted, government may come up with some strategy to resume academic activities. Recently, the Higher Education Secretary, Dhananjay Dewangan, had convened the Standing Committee meeting of the universities to discuss on this significant issue.

The Higher Education Secretary said that the vice chancellors have submitted their reports. He, however, said that this is the matter of Cabinet. “The report will be presented before the Cabinet. The Cabinet will decide how and when the universities and colleges should reopen,” said the Higher Education Secretary when asked about the state government’s stand on the issue.

It is learnt that, Cabinet meeting is likely to be held before the winter session of Chhattisgarh Assembly begins from December 21. The issue of reopening of higher education institutions will be raised in the meeting along with the reports of the Vice Chancellors. It is also to be mentioned, Government Anusuiya Uikey has already held a discussion with the School Education Minister Dr Premsai Singh Tekam on the reopening of coaching institutes. This issue may be put in the Cabinet meeting.

University Grants Commission (UGC) issued fresh guidelines for the reopening of higher educational institutions which have been closed since mid-March across the country.

Central government had permitted reopening of schools and higher education institutions in phas manner after October 15, depending on the local situation and states were given the power to decide on the same. In most states, the phased reopening started with schools.

The UGC is more specific in its instructions as the higher education regulator wants universities and colleges to call back research scholars, post-graduate students in science and technology programmes and final-year undergraduate students (for placement purposes). However, the number of students attending classes on campus, at a given time, should not be more than half the total student strength, the guidelines state.  The remaining students will be encouraged to continue online learning, but they may visit their departments in smaller groups, with prior appointment, to consult faculty members.

UGS did not make its stand clear in attendance in its guidelines and only said that some students may opt not to attend classes and prefer to study online while staying at home.  Similarly, UGS asked to chalk-out strategies for such 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.

The UGS guidelines also make wearing a mask mandatory for all teachers and staff on campus. A class will be broken up into multiple sections, with each section attending in-person lessons on rotation basis. The visitors should either not be allowed at all or their entry should be drastically restricted.

Cultural activities and meetings will be avoided. However, extra-curricular and sports activities may be allowed where physical distancing is possible.

The UGC guidelines is not entirely in favour of reopening of hostels. If it has to be done, then sharing of rooms will not be allowed, which effectively means all hostellers will not be allowed back on campus.

In case a student or faculty member living on campus tests positive for COVID19, UGC has advised the institutions to immediately isolate the patient. Universities and colleges should have a ready plan to provide healthcare support to those resident students and staff who test positive and are isolated. The guidelines restricting social and physical contacts and mobility in such parts of residential places in the campus, where positive cases have been found, should be strictly enforced. Measures like holding no class, not leaving the rooms for hostellers, if applicable, no take away arrangement of food from mess etc. may be enforced, depending upon the severity of the situation,” the guidelines state.

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