UGC Says Colleges, Universities Can Reopen, Hold Classes & Exams in Offline or ‘Blended’ Mode

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The University Grants Commission (UGC) Friday evening issued a notice saying that universities and colleges may reopen — keeping in view their region’s Covid situation — and conduct classes and examinations in either offline or blended (mix of online and offline) mode.

The commission’s order has come in the light of the third wave of Covid-19 subsiding across much of the country. According to the data updated Friday, India recorded nearly 58,000 cases in the last 24 hours, with the daily positivity rate close to 4 percent and daily cases at less than one lakh for the past five consecutive days.

“Keeping in view the situation of Covid-19 in their respective region, the HEIs (higher education institutions) may open campuses, conduct classes and examination in online/ offline/blended mode following Covid-appropriate behavior and necessary protocols issued by the state and central government from time to time,” states the order issued on 11 February by UGC secretary Rajnish Jain.

The commission has already issued a set of reopening guidelines to colleges and universities in November 2020, which say that before reopening any campus, the central or state government concerned must have “declared the area safe for the opening of educational institutions”.

The guidelines further say that the “universities and colleges may plan to open the campuses in phases, with such activities where they can easily adhere to social distancing, use of face masks and other protective measures. This may include administrative offices, research laboratories, and libraries, etc”.

Universities preparing to reopen

Friday’s UGC notice comes as a relief for thousands of students across the country who have been facing issues due to the constant closure of colleges. Since the beginning of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown in India in March 2020, educational institutions have seen shutdowns whenever Covid-19 cases climbed.

The latest set of closures occurred when the third wave of Covid-19 escalated in January this year and many states including Haryana, Telangana, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Kerala, and Madhya Pradesh, among others, shut down schools and colleges.

Some major universities have already announced reopening. Delhi University Wednesday announced that it will reopen from 17 February after functioning online for about two years, and Jawaharlal Nehru University has already reopened from Monday with 100 percent offline attendance.

Students from both these universities had protested, urging the administration to reopen the campuses soon.

Banaras Hindu University (BHU) has also announced that it will reopen with 100 percent offline attendance.

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