The University Grants Commission (UGC) on Monday, issued a circular requesting the Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) that they may take appropriate decisions on conducting offline/online/hybrid classes or exams.
The circular stated, “It is requested that HEIs may take appropriate decision with regard to the opening of campuses; conducting classes and examinations in offline /online/blended mode in accordance with the guidelines issued by the UGC and following COVID appropriate behaviour and necessary protocols/guidelines/directions advisories issued by the Central/State Governments or competent authorities from time to time in view of COVID-19 Pandemic.”
To this, universities and institutes all over Maharashtra reacted assuring that they are following COVID protocols.
Prof. Srinivasan Iyengar, the Director of Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies (JBIMS) said, “We have only started offline lectures for the courses that have limited attendance so that the social distancing is maintained. Only double vaccinated students are allowed to the campus, the rest all attend online. At JBIMS, we are following all the guidelines provided by the government like sanitization of the campus, social distancing, and double vaccination of teaching staff, non-teaching staff, and students. We have maintained the campus with proper COVID protocols.”
After two years, since the pandemic started, the debate of online vs. offline still carries on. When asked about his opinions on which mode of learning is better, Prof. Srinivasan said, “Now we are moving into a new trend of Hybrid mode of teaching. We cannot have pure online or pure offline lectures. Because COVID has not completely vanished and new variants are still coming.”
Assistant Professor at MGM College of Journalism, Prof. Kavita Soni said, “The strength of students at our college is less and our infrastructure is huge. So for us, conducting offline classes has not been a painstaking process. All the COVID protocols given by the government are being followed at our institute. For unvaccinated students, we had conducted drives in our institute. Even in the hostels of the university, social distancing is taken care of. We have started offline campus for a few months now and to date, we haven’t had a single case of COVID-19 in the premises.”
According to a faculty at Rajarambapu Institute of Technology (RIT), Ms Priyanka Kasare, an offline mode of teaching is preferable for providing quality education but if it comes to the stake of students’ health, offline mode is better than anything. She assured that all the COVID norms are strictly being followed at RIT and no COVID case has been reported on campus.
Some colleges have still not started offline lectures although government has allowed. Aseema Jana, Assistant Professor at D.Y. Patil School of Engineering and technology said, “We had planned to start the campus offline sometime back and thus we conducted a survey to understand the vaccination status of the students. We also carried out vaccination drive for unvaccinated students. For now we are taking classes online, but eventually we plan to start the campus offline. Other colleges of D.Y. Patil group have started offline classes and all the COVID norms are being adhered to.”
Another Assistant Professor of D.Y. Patil, Varsha Babar said, “It would be difficult to maintain social distancing in the institute, as the strength of the students is higher. So, keeping the COVID guidelines in mind, we preferred not to reopen the physical campus for now. For the courses that need practical assistance, offline lectures are necessary. Our curriculum can be taught online.”
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