Mumbai colleges to reopen partially from Feb 15; safety and travel still a hurdle

The State Higher Education Minister has announced that all colleges in Mumbai will resume from February 15 at 50% attendance

All colleges in Maharashtra have been directed to resume offline, physical lectures for students from February 15, with 50% attendance. However, this decision has met with sharp retaliation from students and colleges in capital Mumbai, who have listed travel, safety, sanitisation as hurdles, questioning the feasibility of the directive.

Though the state has announced that colleges have to adhere to the COVID-19 protocols to ensure student and staff safety, no concrete plan has been chalked out by the state or MU, claimed colleges in Mumbai.

COVID-altered guidelines for Maharashtra Colleges

The state has relaxed the mandatory 75% attendance requirement in the state colleges, this year. Hostel services will also remain suspended in several colleges as they are being used as quarantine centres. The department has also stated that other protocols such as mandatory masks, social distancing have to be followed within the campus. Colleges will also have to provide sanitisers to students and staff to promote maximum safety and hygiene.

Earlier, the state government had announced the resumption of classes for standards 5 to 8 bases on ground-evaluation reports in respective regions. Thane administration has commissioned schools since January 27. So far, no directives have been issued for primary classes of 1 to 4.

Mumbai colleges list troubles

Colleges in Mumbai however, have pointed out that execution of this, amid disrupted train travel during peak hours and safety of students and staff stands as a major concern from them. It has been also pointed out that school students use school buses, autos or personal vehicles to reach schools, however, college-goers rely on the service of local trains. Since local trains will remain closed for the general public from 7 AM to 1 AM, which are popular college timings, student commute will remain jeopardised. Mumbai colleges have requested the state to first ease and permit train travel before reopening colleges.

Another concern is the thorough sanitisation of the premises. While some colleges in Mumbai do have a sanitation system in place, others are mulling over the high-cost of it. Additionally, the 50% student strength culminates to over 2000 students and staff in most colleges, making the task of social distancing an ordeal. Providing for sanitisers for them will add yet be another burden to the college kitty, pushing them to seek for financial aids and grants the state as well.

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