Thiruvananthapuram: Colleges and other higher educational institutions in Kerala reopen on Monday after remaining closed for over one-and-a-half years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
All final year students, faculty and staff who have received at least the first dose of the vaccination can attend classes, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had announced earlier.
While classes for the final year/final semester students would start on October 4, the rest of the classes begin from October 18.
State Health Minister Veena George urged the students to carefully follow the COVID-19 health protocol while attending the colleges as, the Minister said, the pandemic has not gone. "Everyone should wear masks and maintain social distancing on the campus. Gatherings should be avoided, pens, pencil, books and other materials must not be exchanged," George said in a press release.
She asked the students and staff to use sanitiser and wash hands using soap at regular intervals.
The Health Department asked the students and staff not to go to the institutions if they have fever, cough or any similar symptoms.
The students and staff are also directed to wash their clothes worn to the college as soon as they reach their residence.
Guidelines for students
The authorities of various colleges said that the classrooms are sanitized. Sanitizers are arranged at the gates and the entrance areas and also in front of the classrooms. Thermal scanners too have been installed at many colleges. Sessions would be held in two shifts if there are more than thirty students in a class. Most colleges would conduct online classes simultaneously with on campus sessions. So, students who cannot reach the campuses need not worry about missing out on the lessons. The vaccination certificates of the students would be verified by the college authorities.
The students should present the vaccination certificates at the hostels too. Students have been given instructions about the Covid 19 protocols including mask wearing and maintaining physical distance. Students aren’t allowed to change rooms or stay in their friends’ rooms. They are required to wear masks at all the time.
Commutation would be a challenge for students who rely on public transportation to reach the colleges. As travelling on crowded public busses isn’t safe, students hope that they could stay away from the pandemic through Covid appropriate behavior like using face masks and sanitizers.
The Higher Education Department and the Health Department were tasked with ensuring students are vaccinated before the colleges re-open. The Higher Education Department has collected details of students who have not been vaccinated and the Health Department would conduct camps for them.
The district Collectors have issued directions to the college authorities to inform in case there was any need for vaccination drives on the campuses.
On September 7, Vijayan said higher educational institutions, including technical, polytechnic and medical, would be allowed to re-open from October 4 for the final year students.
The Chief Minister had, however, said the re-opening would be subject to the condition that all final year students, faculty and staff receive at least the first dose of vaccination.
Today, the General Education Minister V Sivankutty held meetings with various student- organisations and teacher organisations to discuss the re-opening of schools from November 1.
Sivankutty, in a press release, said all organisations have supported the decision on the re-opening of the schools.
"It will be considered to accommodate the students of those schools which will not be able to re-open on November 1, due to any reasons, in the nearby schools. The final guidelines for the schools' re-opening will be issued by October 5," Sivankutty said.
(With inputs from PTI)