Degree colleges and universities have been directed to give first priority to final year, research and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programme students when they reopen offline lectures from February 15, by the University of Mumbai (MU). In response to the direction, the Bombay University and College Teachers' Union (BUCTU) has written to the Vice-Chancellor (VC) of MU stating the varsity has not taken advice from disaster management authorities and local administrative bodies before releasing guidelines for reopening of offline lectures.
Following direction of the state higher and technical education department on reopening offline lectures in degree colleges and universities from February 15, the MU released a circular highlighting the Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) laid out by the University Grants Commission (UGC).
The guidelines states, "All research and postgraduate students in the science and technology programmes, as well as final year students, may be allowed to join for academic and placement purposes. Residential students should follow 14-day quarantine before being allowed to attend offline lectures."
Along with initiating safety measures, mandatory wearing of masks at all times on campus and maintaining a six-feet distance between each other, the university has suggested screening of staff and students at the time of entry to the college as well as queue management inside and outside the premises. The university said, "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."
In addition, the varsity said, "Degree colleges and universities should give first preference to start offline lectures for research, PhD candidates and final year students. Online classes be continued for the rest of the batches. Online learning arrangements should be made for international students unable to attend class due to travel and visa restrictions."
Also, colleges have been instructed to avoid cultural activities and meetings on campus. Extra-curricular and sports activities could be allowed with proper social distancing norms in place.
In response to the direction, members of BUCTU in their letter dated February 8, 2021, said, "The university has not taken advice from disaster management authorities and local administrative bodies as railways have not reopened and ease of commutation for college and university teachers and students is not possible."