With passing time, the Union Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry readies for consultations on the reopening of institutions. Teachers, students and parents, higher education regulator, the University Grants Commission (UGC), has drawn up an initial list of do’s and don’ts for campuses.
Universities may first invite only research scholars back to the campus and gradually open their doors for other students, when they open their campuses after the COVID-19 lockdown.
All higher education institutions will also need to form strategic tie-ups with medical facilities and put protocols in place to deal with students who are unwell.
While the final standard operating procedures ( SOPs) for schools and colleges will be published by the government after discussions between the health, HRD and other ministries, the UGC’s draft norms were part of the agenda at a meeting on the subject.
The health ministry may issue a protocol for educational institutions after discussions with the other ministries.
In the draft prepared by the UGC, it was suggested that the process of admissions be conducted online to avoid visits by students to the campus.
Students and faculty with a history of ailments like heart disease or diabetes would be told to prefer the online mode. For international students, too, the focus would be on promoting the online mode of learning.
Institutions would be advised to stay in touch with health facilities and put in place a mechanism for quarantine; contact tracing would be followed in case a Covid-19 case emerges. Hygiene in common facilities like kitchens and libraries are among the issues raised.
Regular screening of faculty and students and awareness drives are also part of the plan. In higher educational institutions, regular visits by counsellors to help stressed students are also planned.
Another suggestion, especially for teaching of subjects that have a practical component, is to teach half the students in the classroom and engage the rest in laboratories. Even in common facilities like labs, it will have to be ensured that equipment is not widely shared.
Varsities and colleges will also require to have plans in place to regulate the movement of outsiders.