Ready to reopen, Mumbai’s colleges plan staggered classes and stringent checks
With schools and junior colleges set to reopen on November 23, colleges in the city are also gearing up to open up their classrooms. Even as colleges wait for directives from the state government and the University of Mumbai (MU), several steps are already being taken to ensure students’ safety. Social distancing, temperature checks, sanitisation and face masks are a priority as colleges prepare to resume classes on campus after a hiatus of over eight months.
From insisting on Covid-19 tests for teachers and other staff members to ensuring 24/7 sanitisation of college premises, many institutes are finding ways to ensure social distancing is maintained on campus. “We are waiting for clear directives from the government on how to reopen, whether to stagger classes etc. In the meantime, we have been regularly sanitising our premises, including labs, classes and offices. Temperature checks will be done when students start coming in,” said Tushar Desai, principal, Ruparel College, in Matunga.
“Sanitisation has been our top priority and that is something we will continue throughout the day, especially once college reopens. We are just worried about handling the staff and students because at any given point of time, at least 1,000 people will be on campus and we don’t want to take chances with the staff’s or students’ health,” said Marie Fernandes, principal, St Andrew’s College, in Bandra. Social distancing, compulsory masks and cleanliness around the campus will be priority, said Fernandes.
Some institutes have decided to call only those students to college who need practical sessions while continuing online classes for others. Keeping in mind the large number of students per batch, some colleges will also run classes in two or three shifts whereas others plan to wait for more directions from MU before reopening colleges. Some principals are hoping for the rule of 75% attendance rule will see a relaxation this year, considering the lockdown.
Usha Pravin Gandhi College, in Vile Parle, caters to around 1,600 students in the degree college and is trying to work out the best way to implement rules so that the institution can reopen safely. ”We plan to start a staggered entry of students, starting first with students from Bachelors of Arts (BA) and Information Technology (IT) students for their practical classes only, while the rest of the batches continue virtual classes,” said principal Anju Kapoor. Kapoor added that without local transport functioning normally, expecting students to attend lectures would not be practical. “The university needs to relax the 75% compulsory attendance rule keeping in mind the current situation. We will also ensure a student doesn’t have to physically attend college more than two or three times a week,” she added.
At Matunga’s GN Khalsa College, authorities are hoping the head of the institute will be the one who decides how many students must attend college in person. “Depending on the total strength of [students at] the college, principals and management should have the authority to decide how many students should be invited to college on a daily basis. This will help us ensure that only those students who need to be in college for practical lectures are invited while the rest continue online classes,” said principal Kiran Mangaonkar, adding that GN Khalsa College has 5,500 students currently studying in the degree college.
MMK College in Bandra has appointed a doctor to be on call, in addition to other measures including regular sanitising and check temperatures of students and staff. “We have staggered the benches to allow social distancing norms to be followed in classrooms. Hand sanitisers have been installed at every floor. A doctor, who is close to the campus, will be available on call in case of any distress,” said principal Kishore Peshori.