Following over 10 months of lockdown necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, degree colleges and universities believe there are going to be multiple challenges in resuming offline lectures.
On the one hand, degree colleges have initiated standard operating procedures (SOPs), such as the mandatory use of masks, sanitisation of classrooms, maintaining social distance on campus and regular body temperature checks. While, on the other hand, degree colleges state that they are facing multiple challenges, such as the lack of space to accommodate students while maintaining social distance in a classroom, absence of high speed Wi-Fi or internet connection and time restrictions to commute by suburban train services for students, teaching and non-teaching staff.
Marie Fernandes, principal of St Andrew's College, Bandra, said, "There are a lot of logistic challenges in resuming offline lectures, because we need additional space to accommodate students while maintaining distance in a classroom. There has to be a gap with a vacant desk between two students. Also, we will have to call students in batches for practicals considering the limited space in laboratories."
Degree colleges are sceptical about students who are returning to campus from other states. Askok Wadia, principal of Jai Hind College, said, "We have many students who are from different states of India. They are now returning to Mumbai, as they had shifted to their native villages during the initial days of the lockdown. These students will have to look for residence and search for accommodation from scratch."
Professors will face challenges as they will have to conduct both offline and online lectures. Pooja Ramchandani, in-charge principal of HR College, Churchgate, said, "We will conduct regular online lectures to cater to those students who are unable to commute to college due to time restrictions in local train services. Professors will have to manage time and conduct lectures in both offline and online mode."
Accessibility to high-speed internet connection or Wi-Fi services is a challenge as professors will have to conduct online lectures or live-stream sessions from the classroom. The principal of a Chembur college said, "We do not have the bandwidth to provide internet connection for all professors to conduct online lectures simultaneously from the campus. We are allocating time slots for certain subjects, where professors can use high-speed internet without any lag."