The MHA has issued new guidelines for opening up more areas for activity outside the containment zones. The guidelines hold major development for opening up schools, colleges and other educational institutions from October 15 in a graded manner, according to the local situation as per the state and UT authorities. The officials have been guided to communicate with the school and college management and make sure that they follow the guidelines mentioned as per Unlock 5.0.
Important pointers to keep in mind
- Attendance will be voluntary, depending on the parents consent.
- Online learning will continue as now.
- Labs and other experimental works can begin.
- Swimming pools and other such places of community gathering will be closed.
- Inter and intra-state travel can continue without any special permission.
- Only essential services will continue in the containment zones.
What are the new guidelines for opening up the schools?
The state and UT governments have the flexibility to decide if they want to open up the schools for children. However, online teaching and distance learning methods will be the preferred mode of teaching. Unlock 5.0 states that attendance will not be mandatory and parental consent will be required. An SOP was released earlier, when the schools were allowed to open outside the containment zones from September 21. This SOP needs to be strictly followed in all schools and educational institutions that are allowed to be open by the Educational Departments of the states/UTs.
What are the provisions for higher education institutes?
The Department of Higher Education and the Ministry of Education can decide whether to open the higher education institutes and colleges, in consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs. Here also, attendance will not be mandatory and the states and UTs can modify the rules as per the coronavirus cases and the concentration of containment zones in the area. Ph.D. and postgraduate students can also be allowed to return to the laboratory and other experimental works from October 15.
However, the Unlock 5.0 guidelines clearly mention that the Head of Institution of the Centrally Funded Higher Education Institutions will have to make sure that there is a genuine requirement of the research scholars (Ph.D.) and postgraduate students of science and other practical courses to get back to the campus. For all other higher education institutes, Ph.D. and postgraduate students can be called back as per the decision taken by the respective State/UT governments.
The Policy Times Suggestions
- As the new guidelines mention higher education institutions, it is important to note that students from all across the country study in colleges and it might be difficult for them to get back at this point. So, the teachers should avoid conducting any major development in the courses.
- For the sake of the students, teachers and professors can also try live streaming their classes as some students physically attend.
- India is now the third country in the world to cross 1,00,000 deaths due to coronavirus. There are 64,73,544 confirmed cases so far, on the 194th day of implementing a nationwide lockdown.