University Grants Commission Issues Guidelines for Reopening of Higher Education Institutions

According to the guidelines, reopening will be done in a phased manner, beginning with research, masters and final year undergraduate students

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has reportedly issued guidelines pertaining to the reopening of higher education institutions. The UGC has advised institutions outside of containment zones to reopen in a phased manner, beginning with research, masters and final year undergraduate students.

As per the guidelines, the number of students attending classes on campus, at a given time, should not be more than half the total student strength, while attendance for students will be voluntary. Online classes are expected to continue for students who wish to study remotely.

Apart from the standard COVID-19 safety protocols, the UGC has also suggested that institutions extend teaching hours and follow a six-day schedule to accommodate students in batches and ensure social distancing. Also, wearing a mask is mandatory for all teachers and staff on campus.

According to the guidelines, residential campuses will be allowed to operate hostels “where it is necessary”, however, sharing of rooms has been prohibited. The guidelines further state, “Symptomatic students should not be permitted to stay in the hostels under any circumstances”.

Furthermore “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 etc. should be ensured for those in quarantine and isolation facilities,” the guidelines stated.