The wait seems to be over for students to physically attend colleges and universities in Maharashtra. Higher and Technical Education Minister Uday Samant, on Tuesday, said that the vice-chancellors of all the universities are positive about reopening the universities and colleges as COVID-19 cases are declining and there is less number of deaths.
“Work is underway to put in place standard operating procedures that will be framed jointly by the universities and the state government. However, colleges will not be reopened at one go, but in phases. The announcement is expected in the next two to four days after the Disaster Management Authority meets under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and takes a decision,” said Samant.
In a bid to avoid any confrontation with Governor BS Koshyari, who is also the Chancellor of Universities in the state, Samant has initiated dialogue with the vice-chancellors. Governor had expressed serious displeasure over the state government’s decision of not holding final-year examinations last year citing COVID-19. He had said that not conducting the final year examinations by the universities amounts to a breach of University Grant Commission’s guidelines.
Therefore, Samant proposes to take up the matter at the Disaster Management Authority only after the vice-chancellors come on board. He said that he had held a meeting with the vice-chancellors on Monday and they were in favour of restarting the colleges and universities.
“Some vice-chancellors have suggested that in some places online classes should be started. While in a few other places, students can attend classes physically,” said Samant. He noted that the SOPs will be prepared in accordance with the UGC’s guidelines.
However, the minister reiterated that colleges will not restart with 100% attendance. Colleges will be reopened in phases, as the virus still exists and all precautionary measures are taken to avoid crowding.
As far as the reopening of hostels is concerned, Samant said that will also be done in phases as there are still some hostels that are converted into quarantine centres.