Call research, final-year students for physical class; online class for rest: Mumbai univ
Days after the state minister for higher and technical education Uday Samant announced that state universities and colleges can reopen starting February 15 with not more than 50% attendance on campus at any given time, the University of Mumbai (MU), on Friday, released a circular along with guidelines to be followed. The colleges have been asked to give first preference to PhD and research candidates and final year students to attend physical lectures while continuing online lectures for the rest of the batches.
Following the standard operating procedures (SOPs) made public by the University Grants Commission (UGC), MU has shared a host of general and specific guidelines with affiliated colleges.
“Institutes should plan to open the campuses in phases and ensure that not more than 50% of the total students are present. All research and postgraduate students in the science and technology programs, as well as final year students, may be allowed to join for academic and placement purposes,” states the guidelines.
Other than these batches, online classes will have to remain functional for the other batches, states the circular. It further states that online teaching-learning arrangements must also continue for international students who cannot join classes physically due to travel and visa restrictions. “Residential students should follow the mandatory 14-day quarantine and self-evaluate their health regularly before being allowed to attend physical classes. Students and staff residing in containment zones should not be allowed on campus.”
Other basic safety measures include ensuring that everyone wears masks at all times on campus and maintains a six-feet distance between each other. Screening of staff and students at the time of entry to the college as well as queue management inside and outside the premises have been suggested. “There should be mandatory and regular disinfection of frequently touched surfaces in all classrooms, laboratories and other common areas before the beginning of the classes and at the end of the day. At least one seat should be left vacant between two seats,” highlights the safety measures.
The guidelines also mention collection and proposer disposal of face masks, gloves, tissues etc. “Following the state government order for reopening of colleges, and keeping in mind guidelines prescribed by the state as well as UGC in November 2020, colleges are requested to follow all the guidelines to ensure the safety of staff and students,” said the circular.
Colleges, however, are still worried that conducting physical as well as online classes every day might become stressful for the teachers. “Also how are we supposed to keep the washrooms sanitised through the day? The government specifically asked us not to charge library and laboratory fees from students this year and is now asking us to open all for all students. Sanitisation through the day will be a financial burden for many colleges,” said the vice-principal of a suburban college on condition of anonymity.
Guidelines for before reopening of campuses—
*Only university/colleges outside containment zones to be allowed to open
*Students and staff living in containment zones should not be allowed to attend classes
*Self-monitoring of health by all staff and students and ensuring that any illness is reported in advance
*Faculty and students be encouraged to download and update Arogya Setu app
Specific measures to be taken—
*Reopen colleges in phases with not more than 50% present at the college at any given time
*Research and PhD candidates as well as final year students be given first preference to start physical classes, while online classes be continued for the rest of the batches
*Students may visit their respective departments in small batches after seeking prior appointment for faculty consultations
*Online learning arrangements should be made for international students unable to attend class due to travel and visa restrictions
Safety measures to be followed—
*Crowding must be avoided at entry/exit points. Staggered entry timings with limited strength for different programs to be followed
*Ensure queue management; specific markings on the floor with a gap of six feet to be made and followed
*Screening of students and compulsion on wearing masks, sanitising hands must be ensured at all entry points
*Mandatory and regular disinfection of frequently touched surfaces in all classrooms, laboratories and other common areas before the beginning of the classes and at the end of the day. Teaching materials to be disinfected regularly with disinfectants
*At least one seat should be left vacant between two seats
*Cultural activities, meetings be avoided. Extra-curricular and sports activities could be allowed with proper social distancing norms in place
*Collection of used facemasks, PPE, hand gloves and tissues and their disposal as per safety norms should be ensured
*Hostels may be allowed to open in cases where necessary and residential students should follow the mandatory 14-day quarantine and self-evaluate their health regularly before being allowed to attend physical classes