The University Grants Commission (UGC) on Thursday issued guidelines for the reopening of colleges and universities across the nation in a phased manner. The guidelines have been vetted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Education.
According to the official statement, universities and colleges outside the containment zone can be opened in a sequential manner after consultation with the respective State/UT Governments. It suggests six-day weeks, smaller class-sizes to enable social distancing, however, teaching hours in a day may be extended, as per the institution's requirements.
The new guidelines have asked the institutions to ensure that any campus, the Central or the concerned State Government must have declared the area safe for reopening before operations. The directions, instructions, guidelines and orders issued by the Central and State Government concerned regarding safety and health in view of COVID-19 must be fully abided by the higher education institutions.
Additionally, institutions must be ready to handle the inflow of students, faculty and staff in the campus. Campuses must comply with monitoring disinfecting measures, safety and health conditions, screening and detecting the infected persons, containment measures to prevent the spread of the virus in the campus.
As the number of post graduate students is less, UGC allowed students of all research programmes and post-graduate students in science and technology programmes to join the institution. However, it is to be ensured that the norms of physical distancing and preventive measures are followed.
The guidelines further stated that institutions must provide online study material and access to e-resources to such students who prefer to study online while staying at home. Institutions are also requested to make online teaching-learning arrangements for international students who could not join the programme due to international travel restrictions or visa-related issues.
Furthermore, universities will be allowed to open their hostels only if accommodating the students at the campus is necessary.