The University Grants Commission (UGC), a statutory body set up by the Government of India for the coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of higher education, has issued guidelines for the reopening of universities and colleges after the lockdown necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic on Thursday. The guidelines suggest that universities and colleges should reopen campuses physically in phases, with six-day weeks, smaller class sizes, maintenance of social distancing and Covid-19 precautions.
The guidelines, released on Thursday, state, "Universities and colleges may plan opening campuses in phases, with such activities where they can easily adhere to social distancing, use of face masks and other protective measures. This may include administrative offices, research laboratories and libraries. Thereafter, students of all research and postgraduate (PG) in Science and Technology programmes may join, as the number of such students is comparatively less. Further, final year students may also be allowed to join."
At the insitutitional planning level, the UGC states, "Six-day schedule may be followed so that classes can be conducted in phases and the seating arrangement be made keeping in view the requirements of physical distancing. Class size can be reduced depending on the availability of space in classrooms or learning sites, up to 50 per cent students may be allowed on a rotation basis to attend a class."
Sharing of rooms may not be allowed in hostels, according to UGC guidelines. The guidelines state, "Hostels may be opened in phases only in such cases where it is necessary while strictly observing the safety and health preventive measures. However, the sharing of rooms may not be allowed in hostels. Residential students coming from different locations shall remain in quarantine and self-monitor their health for a period of 14 days before being allowed to attend classes or as per the policy opted by the state government for quarantine (even if they bring a negative test report or the university or college plan to test them on arrival).
"All students should wear face masks and take all preventive measures. The central and state government should help educational institutions to prepare an effective plan for reopening campuses. Keeping in view the varying conditions in any state at district and zonal levels, the government concerned should prepare a region-specific plan, instead of a uniform plan for the entire state," the UGC said.