Kerala initiates steps to reopen higher education institutions
Initiating steps to reopen higher education institutions, the State government has instructed college managements to prepare list of students who were yet to receive at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Higher Education Minister R. Bindu, who held an online meeting with college principals and other heads of institutions on Friday, said special vaccination drives will be held at campuses to fast-track inoculation among college students prior to the resumption of physical classes for final-year undergraduate and postgraduate students on October 4.
Following demands made by colleges, the department will also request district administrations to return hostels and other college facilities that have been temporarily converted into COVID-19 first line treatment centres (CFLTCs) and other quarantine centres. District Collectors will also be urged to permit college teachers and other employees who have been deployed as sectoral magistrates for COVID-19 surveillance to rejoin their duties.
Dr. Bindu added COVID-19 Jagratha Samithis (vigilance committees) that comprised ward members, ASHA and other health workers, and parents-teachers association (PTA) office bearers will be formed in each institution. Such panels will be tasked with preventing crowding and enforcing COVID-19 norms including physical distancing on campuses. Orders have also been issued to thoroughly disinfect classrooms with the assistance of local bodies, voluntary organisations and PTAs.
As part of the pandemic protocol, the classmates who are primary contacts of COVID-19-infected students must compulsorily go into quarantine. Classes will be held with 50% strength with principals required to evolve schedules comprising sessions held in two batches.
While classes will have to be conducted in specific durations between 8.30 a.m. and 3.30 p.m., colleges have been permitted to choose from one of the following time slots: 8.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m., 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 9.30 a.m. to 3.30 p.m.
While the government had earlier directed self-financing colleges to waive off special fees meant for use of libraries, laboratories and other facilities, the college managements have been permitted to levy the same hereafter with the resumption of offline classes.