Covid cases down, Chandigarh admn readies plan to reopen colleges in August
With the second wave of the Covid pandemic ebbing way, the UT administration has started preparing the unlock plan for city colleges.
The proposal is to open colleges in August with several riders in place. For both students and college staff, at least a single dose of Covid vaccine will be mandatory to attend the classes.
For those yet to get jabbed or not willing to attend physical classes with concerns of Covid spread, online classes will continue.
For more than a year, since March last year when the pandemic first broke out, city colleges have remained largely shut. Some colleges reopened in November, but didn’t evoke much response from students.
When the first wave subsided, the administration had decided to reopen all colleges in February this year. However the second wave started soon after in March, thwarting the plan.
On May 4, the administration had imposed strict lockdown in the city, but over the last couple of weeks most of the lockdown restrictions on public movement, gatherings, shops and restaurants, and weekend curfews have been withdrawn.
“The Covid situation in Chandigarh has improved considerably. Consequently, we are in the position to consider reopening colleges. We are weighing different options, but the key to allowing colleges to reopen is the vaccination status of teachers and students. We are also keeping a watch on the situation in the neighbouring states,” said a senior UT official.
Focus on increasing vaccination coverage
The administration has sought from education and health departments the current status of vaccination among the college staff (both teaching and non-teaching) and students.
Its emphasis now is on increasing the vaccination coverage among students and teachers. “Over the next three weeks we will be pushing for more teachers and students to get vaccinated. If the administration is satisfied with the rate of vaccination among them, it will allow resumption of physical classes,” said the official.
On the directions of the administration, the UT health department is also going to start a special vaccination drive for college students.
Daily camp from 10am to 5pm
The special drive with the tagline “Students before join your college vaccinate yourself” will be launched on July 12 and will be organised everyday from 10am to 5pm.
“The department will hold three vaccination camps at Punjab Engineering College, Sector 12; Chandigarh College of Engineering and Technology, Sector 26; and Post Graduate Government College, Sector 46. No prior appointment is required for getting jabbed. All students above 18 years of age can walk in for the vaccine. They can also get vaccinated at the nearest government vaccination centre,” the official said.
Vaccination of outstation students a challenge
Chandigarh is a major education hub of the region, with students from neighbouring states like Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and other parts of the country pursuing their undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in the city.
As such, enforcing the one-jab rule for outstation students remains a challenge for the administration. “We are looking at all these issues before the final decision to open the colleges is taken. Initially, attending physical classes will not be mandatory. If and when Covid’s third wave unfolds will also greatly determine the complete reopening of colleges,” the official said.
No call on reopening of schools yet
Even as the UT education department has asked all eligible teaching and non-teaching staff to get vaccinated by July 31, no date has been planned for reopening schools. As per higher officials of the department, a meeting is likely to be held next week to review the situation and take a decision.