Kolkata: The University Grants Commission’s suggested guidelines for the reopening of college and university campuses brought relief to institute heads, who felt they now had a charter of recommendations, based on which they could chalk out their road map ahead for in-person classes.
Principal of Surendranath College Indranil Kar said he had already held several meetings with the heads of individual departments to discuss the requirements and to plan the required measures before classes can start on campus. “We expect that from December 1, some academic activities may begin in college. The new academic calendar for the first-semester undergraduate students are scheduled to start that day. We will now draw up a plan on how to curb entry into campus to avoid crowding. Also, holding classes on alternate days and running online teaching parallel to face-to-face interactions are some of the options we are looking at,” he said.
Some of the suggestions made by the UGC included physical distancing of at least 6 feet, mandatory use of face covers/masks, allowing students to frequently wash hands, using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, maintaining respiratory etiquette, self-monitoring of health by all and strictly prohibiting spitting. The UGC has also authorized that a campus can welcome the students back only after the state government concerned declare the area safe for reopening of educational institutions. The universities and colleges will be allowed to open only if they are outside containment zones. Students and staff living in containment zones will not be allowed to attend colleges. Students and staff should also be advised not to visit areas falling within containment zones, the guidelines said.
“While we will keep the suggestions set by the UGC in mind, we shall also abide by the SOP, given to us by the education department and Calcutta University,” said Lady Brabourne College principal Siuli Sarkar. She pointed out that the authorities had already carried out sanitization of the entire campus in June, and that it would be repeated soon. “We have procured thermal-check guns,” Sarkar added.
Though the state government has already indicated to allow on-campus academic activities in colleges and universities from December, a date will be announced by chief minister Mamata Banerjee within this month.