Mumbai colleges gear up for reopening, await clarity from govt
Even as schools in the state have already started welcoming students back on campus for physical classes, colleges are still waiting for hear from the state government on the matter. With the ministry for higher and technical education as well as state universities still mum on this matter, several city colleges have come up with their own standard operating procedures (SOPs) to be followed to ensure regular sanitisation as well as social distancing norms are maintained in order to avoid any untoward circumstances.
“We have decided to first bring in students who need practical sessions, both in junior as well as degree colleges. Instead of calling students three times a week, we might end up calling one batch only once a week only for practical lecture purposes and ensure they attend class for one full day instead of calling them three times a week,” said Hemlata Bagla, principal of KC College, Churchgate.
She added that all students will be made aware of social distancing norms in advance and that the college will insist on use of masks and sanitisers. “We will also encourage students to bring lunch from home because our canteen will remain shut to avoid large gatherings. Students will also be informed to maintain social distancing even outside classrooms,” she said.
Earlier this month, state minister for higher and technical education Uday Samant had said that the future course of action for higher education institutes will be shared soon, and colleges were touted to reopen by January 28. However, there is no word from the government on this matter yet and for the time being, social distancing, compulsion on masks and cleanliness around the campus will be the priority for most colleges.
At Matunga’s GN Khalsa College, the authorities are hoping that the flexibility of inviting students to college should be left to the head of the institute. “Depending on the total strength of the college, the principal and management should have the authority to decide how many students should be invited to college on a daily basis. This will help ensure that only those students who need to be in college for practical lectures are invited while the rest continue online classes,” said Kiran Mangaonkar, principal. A total of 5,500 students currently study in the degree college of the institute.
Some colleges also plan to continue online classes along with physical classes, even after reopening of colleges.
“Since some of our students are still attending classes from their hometowns, we will continue classes online for them. Also, students cannot be forced to attend physical lectures against their will, so such students too will be given the choice of attending online classes,” said Bagla and added that the same benefit will also be extended towards senior staff members keeping their safety in mind.
While most institutes already have a sanitisation programme in place, some are worried about the expenses that will be incurred by institutes once students start attending regular lectures.
“We have 4,000 students plus staff to cater to, and even if only 50% of them are on campus, sanitising each and every class and ensuring sanitisers for all students and staff will be a huge cost. The government should look into offering some financial aid to colleges, especially those with large number of students,” said Marie Fernandes, principal of St Andrew’s College, Bandra.
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