Reduced class size, no sharing of hostel rooms: UGC's guidelines for reopening of varsities

Reduced class size, no sharing of hostel rooms: UGC's guidelines for reopening of varsities
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New Delhi: Following a six-day schedule, reducing class size, setting up isolation facilities on campus, and COVID-19 screening of students, faculty and staff are among the guidelines announced by the University Grants Commission (UGC) for reopening of universities and colleges closed since March in view of the pandemic.

For central universities and other centrally funded higher education institutions, the decision for reopening of campuses has been left to the Vice-Chancellors and heads.

However, for state universities and colleges, the respective state governments will have to take a call, the guidelines said.

"To avoid the risk of transmission, the students, faculty and staff should be screened and symptomatic ones are advised to get clinically assessed before allowing them entry into the campus," the guidelines said.

"Isolation facilities for symptomatic persons and quarantine facilities for those who were in contact with the positively tested persons should be there on campus or a tie-up may be made in advance with some government hospital or approved premises or as advised by the local authorities so that, in case of necessity, prompt action may be taken."

"Proper arrangement of safety, health, food, water should be ensured for those in quarantine and isolation facilities," the UGC said.

The commission has recommended that the teaching hours in a day may be extended according to the requirements of the institution.

"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," it said.

"Universities and colleges may consider reducing the class size and break them in multiple sections to maintain physical distancing. Depending on the availability of space in classrooms or learning sites, up to 50 per cent of students may be allowed on a rotation basis to attend the classes," the commission said. 

The universities and colleges have been asked to plan the opening of campuses in a phased manner, with such activities that adhere to COVID-19 norms including social distancing, use of face masks and other protective measures. 

"The universities and colleges shall only be allowed to open if they are outside the containment zones. Further, students and staff living in containment zones will not be allowed to attend the colleges," the commission said.

"Students and staff shall also be advised not to visit areas falling within containment zones. The faculty, staff and students of the university and college should be encouraged to download 'Aarogya Setu App'," it said.

"Students of all research programmes and post-graduate students in science and technology programmes may join as the number of such students is comparatively less and norms of physical distancing and preventive measures can be easily enforced."

"Final year students may also be allowed to join for academic and placement purposes, as per the decision of the head of the institution," it added.

The commission has said that the institutions should have a plan ready for such international students who could not join the programme due to international travel restrictions or visa-related issues. 

"Hostels may be opened 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. Symptomatic students should not be permitted to stay in the hostels under any circumstances," it said. 

Universities across the country were closed on March 16 in order to contain the spread of coronavirus. A nationwide lockdown was announced on March 25.

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