Image Source: DNA India
The rising coronavirus cases in Mumbai and Maharashtra have spooked officials to keep college lectures online across the state. The rising coronavirus cases had begun in late December 2021 and soon began to rise exponentially by the first week of January 2022. To ease the tensions of the parents, schools across Maharashtra were ordered to be kept online till 31st January. However, soon the question of keeping college lectures online soon began. On 4th January, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation or the BMC had decided that physical classrooms in schools had to be shut and were being taken online. The order stated that classes from 1 to 9 and 11 were to be kept online while no specifications were given out for classes 10th and 12th.
The Higher and Technical Education Minister, Uday Samant, had a meeting on Wednesday to assess the situation in universities across the state. Mr Samant had posted on social media that a decision regarding online colleges would be taken the same day. On Wednesday, the Maharashtra government announced that the physical classes of all non-agriculture, private, deemed universities and colleges in the state would be closed and would be shifted online till 15th February in the wake of rising Covid-19 cases.
The minister met divisional commissioners, all district collectors and vice-chancellors on Tuesday. He added that the announcement regarding online colleges would be made at 4 PM on Wednesday. An official who was present in the meeting told the Times of India that most vice-chancellors were keen on shifting to online classes as the cases of Covid-19 were rising. The Higher Education Minister most likely took feedback from the officials with the Chief Minister before making it public.
The minister stated that the classes and the exams related to the colleges would be held online and stated that the timetable for the exams had also been reviewed. He further states that the Chief Minister had directed them to take a decision keeping in mind the welfare of the students. With all of the information, the ministry sought to keep online classes till 15th February.
Mr Samant said that the university administration had been directed to ensure that students would not suffer due to issues such as lack of network connectivity or power cuts. Gondwana, Jalgaon, Nanded universities had reported connectivity issues which were resolved after meeting with the respective collectors. He further stated that hostels for locals would be shut with advance notice but for foreign students doing research and PhD will continue due to visa issues.
Lastly, he said that the vaccination data of the students should be given to district collectors and special camps must be organized for the students who have yet not taken their vaccines. Since the priority is to start physical classes by February 15th all the non-teaching staff ought to get their vaccines as well, he added. He further stated that universities and colleges have been advised to start helplines to help college students in need.