Published: 25th November 2020
As colleges are set to reopen across the country, here's every question you had but were afraid to ask!
The day the doors of our college campus are thrown open will the students saunter in or take eager strides towards classrooms? Team Edex breaks down all that you need to know
The University Grants Commission (UGC) released the guidelines on November 5 for reopening universities and colleges, which have been shut since March 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These guidelines have also been vetted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Education. Here's all that you need to know.
What are the safety measures educational institutes across the country have to follow and implement before they re-open for full-fledged academic activities?
-Physical distance of at least six feet to be followed when feasible
-Use of face masks mandatory
-Use of hand sanitisers and frequent handwashing is advised
-Respiratory etiquettes like covering nose and mouth while coughing, sneezing to be practised
-Self-monitoring of health and reporting any discomfort at the earliest is of utmost importance
-Spitting is strictly prohibited
-Installation of the Aarogya Setu app shall be advised
What are the safety measures that should be kept in mind at all times by the institutes during working hours, at entry and exit points of campuses and inside the campus?
-Arrangement for thermal scanners, sanitisers, face masks should be made available at every entry/exit point
-Crowding must be avoided, to ensure queue management markings must be made on the floor
-Those having symptoms should not be allowed on campus
-Proper and regular sanitisation of classrooms, labs, common spaces, parking areas and so on
-At least one seat should be left vacant between two seats with proper markings inside classrooms
-Cultural activities, meetings to be avoided, however, sports and extra-curricular may be allowed where physical distancing is feasible
-Hostels to be opened only when necessary with safety measures
-Regular monitoring of the health of students, faculty and staff
What will students do if they are staying at hostels?
-Students might have to wait before they can finally stay at hostels on campus.
-Hostels may be opened only in cases where it is necessary while strictly observing the safety and health preventive measures, the UGC said. “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,” the recent guidelines added.
-Stating the guidelines for hostels, the UGC said in its notice, “Since residential students may be coming from different locations, they shall remain in quarantine and self-monitor their health for 14 days before being allowed to attend classes or as per the policy opted by the State Government for quarantine (even if they bring a negative test report or the university/college plan to test them on arrival).”
If students are staying at their college/university hostel, what safety measures do the institutions have to follow?
-Cleanliness is to be maintained in dining areas. Meals should be served in small batches. Take away options should be available
-It must be ensured that the meals are freshly cooked. Senior staff should monitor the same.
-Hostels may define the number of students in dining halls
-Mess timings may be increased to avoid overcrowding.
What should students do if they are staying at hostels?
-Students cannot share books, other learning material, and eatables
-If they fall sick or show symptoms, students have to inform the authorities without delay
What role do students have to play in following safety measures?
-Self-discipline is most important to contain the spread of COVID-19 through social distancing and maintaining hygienic condition.
-All students should wear face covers/ masks
-It is important for the students to be physically and mentally fit to handle any exigencies
-The students must inculcate activities that will increase immunity-boosting mechanism which may include exercise, yoga, eating fresh fruits and healthy food (avoid fast food), sleep on time.
-Discrimination of fellow students who have a history of COVID-19 in the family to be avoided
-Provide support to friends under stress due to COVID-19 pandemic.
-Students should follow the guidelines, advisories and instructions issued by the Government authorities as well as by the universities and colleges
Is it mandatory to download the Aarogya Setu app?
Well, yes. The 18-page-long UGC guidelines document, mentions the mobile application four times in total. “Installation and use of Aarogya Setu App shall be advised wherever feasible,” reads a pointer in the ‘COVID-19 appropriate behaviour’ section.
Aarogya Setu app has questions to answer:
An open-source contact tracing app, Aarogya Setu was released on April 2, 2020, after India went under a lockdown. However, on October 28, Live Law reported that the Central Information Commission had asked the National Informatics Centre to explain that when in the Aarogya Setu website it is mentioned that the platform was designed, developed, and hosted by it, then how is it that it doesn’t have any information about the creation of the app. Valid question, we say
What about study tours, fieldwork, and cultural activities?
Things may not be the same for quite some time for college and university students. “Universities and colleges should prepare a policy for restricting the outside experts on campuses, study tours, field works, etc, keeping in mind the COVID-19 situation,” reads the guidelines.
Do sports fall under restricted activities?
In what may seem like a relief, sporting activities are exempted from the restriction. “Such extracurricular and sports activities may be allowed where physical distancing is feasible and is in accordance with the Ministry of Home Affairs guidelines, issued under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 from time to time,” reads the UGC guidelines.
What about re-opening auditoriums, seminar halls?
“Ensure the norms of physical distancing, sanitisation and hygienic conditions for use of common facilities — auditorium, conference or seminar halls, sports, gymnasium, canteen, parking area,” it reads.
Checkpoints at the entrance of colleges| Pic: PTI
What kind of training will the staff, students have to go through to keep the campuses safe?
The UGC has asked institutions to makes sure that the staff and students are trained to keep the campus safe and healthy and prevent any further outbreak. “The institutions should train their staff and students to assist and undertake the work related to safety and health to prevent an outbreak of the pandemic in their campuses. Non-resident students should be allowed on campuses only after thermal scanning, sanitisation of their hands, wearing face masks and gloves,” said the guidelines.
Are there any mental health helplines or sensitisation programmes in place on campuses?
Not at the moment. In order to reassure students and avoid any kind of stress or panic in the prevailing situation, the UGC has asked institutes to set up helplines for mental health, psychological concerns and the well-being of students and faculty. The guidelines have also emphasised the need for sensitisation programmes to make students, teachers, and staff aware of the Coronavirus, its effects, prevention etc on campuses.
What will institutions do to keep the central government informed about the condition of campuses?
The UGC guidelines stated that the state and central governments should keep regular contact with the institutions to gain information regarding the condition on campuses and also call online meetings with the head of the institutes whenever deemed fit.