Colleges in Maharashtra start physical classes

On Wednesday, colleges and universities across Maharashtra resumed private or ‘offline’ classes.

Colleges and universities across Maharashtra on Wednesday resumed private or ‘offline’ classes that had been closed for more than a year and a half due to the coronavirus epidemic. In Pune and Mumbai, campus attendance was low on the first day. As per the directions of the state government, only fully vaccinated students are allowed to participate in the classroom.

Online lecture facility will be available for those who are unable to attend physical classes. Last week, Higher and Technical Education Minister Uday Samanta announced that all colleges and universities in the state could conduct physical classes from October 20. Schools across the state have resumed physical classes for students in grades 5 through 12 from October 4.

Samantha further said that every university must issue a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the colleges affiliated to it and what precautions should be taken while conducting classes individually. According to the SOP issued by the University of Mumbai, a maximum of 50 per cent students can sit in a class.

Colleges should give students the option to join online sessions, it says. The varsity said they should also keep a record of the COVID-19 vaccine certificate of each student and staff member attending the physical session. On Wednesday, 1,825 new COVID-19 cases and 21 deaths were reported in Maharashtra.

On the first day, a small number of students attended most of the colleges in Mumbai. Although some students have not yet been fully vaccinated, safety concerns are likely to weigh heavily on students and parents, a college teacher said. Getting to college can also be a challenge for many students in the metropolis as local trains are currently only available to those who have a monthly pass.

According to an internal survey, less than 50 percent of students have been fully vaccinated while most teachers and non-teaching staff have been vaccinated twice, a college professor said. Seema Sapale, vice-principal of Dadar Kirti College, said, “There was a mixed reaction from students on the first day. Some students are willing to join the college, some still prefer to give lectures online.”

He hoped that after the Diwali holiday everything would be normal, he added. Minister Samanta also tweeted to greet the students. “Good luck to all the student friends …. Only those who have life in their dreams reach their destination … Nothing happens with only wings, you have to fly with courage,” he wrote.

Some teachers have claimed that colleges did not have enough time to prepare before resuming classes. Nevertheless, they were able to sanitize the campus and prepare a list of vaccinated students and staff, they said. Pune, a major educational center, has reopened most of the colleges but there were very few students.

“Almost all colleges have reopened for physical classes. But only those who have received both doses of the vaccine are allowed to attend, the average attendance was about 10 per cent,” said Dr Sudhakar Jadhavar, general secretary of the Maharashtra State Principals’ Federation.


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