In order to ensure the safety of the students, the UGC has issued post-COVID-19 guidelines for the colleges and universities across the country which have started to reopen and begin offline classes after being closed since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. According to the guidelines released by the UGC, the Universities and college campuses will be functioning with 50 per cent of students in attendance while the outside college activities will be restricted. Along with the colleges following the Physical distancing rules, the colleges are also expected to ensure that the students and staff members wear their masks at all times and ensure the campus is disinfected every day.
Reopening in Central Universities
Colleges in Delhi University have been reopened for the final year undergraduate and postgraduate students while Jawaharlal Nehru University is reopening the campus in phases. The University has until now allowed entry of the fourth year PhD, M.Sc, and MCA students in the fifth and sixth phase of its reopening. Banaras Hindu University has decided to reopen the university campus for the final year students from February 22, 2021.
Smaller Class sizes
The University Grants Commission Guidelines issued for the colleges and universities also suggest smaller class sizes in the colleges in order to follow the COVID-19 social distancing rules issued. The new guidelines have also asked the educational institutions to make sure that before the reopening of any of the university campuses, the Central and concerned state governments must declare the area safe for reopening of the educational institutions.
Higher education institutions to follow guidelines
The directions, instructions, guidelines, and orders issued by the Central and State Government concerned regarding the safety and health keeping in mind the COVID-19 situation must be followed by the higher education institutions. The UGC guidelines further stated that the colleges and universities must mandate regular visits of a counsellor to make sure that the campuses are stress-free. The UGC has also asked educational institutions to set up helplines for mental health, psychological concerns, and the wellbeing of the students on the campus.
The guidelines further add that regular mentoring of the students must be conducted through interactions and the colleges and universities have been appealed to remain calm and stress-free which can be achieved through telephones, emails, digital, and social media platforms.
Educational Institutions across the country have also been advised to restrict activities including visits of outside experts on campuses, study tours, and field works. The faculty, staff, and students of the universities and colleges are also advised to download the ‘Aarogya Setu App’
Colleges to provide online study material
Colleges and universities are also required to provide online study materials and access to e-resources to the students who prefer to study online while staying at home at present. Institutions have also been asked to make online teaching-learning arrangements for international students who are unable to join due to international travel restrictions and visa-related issues. The UGC guidelines also stated that the faculty members should be trained for online-teaching-learning practices.