More than 260 colleges including 132 government institutions reopened in Himachal Pradesh after a gap of months since the Covid-19 lockdown and closure of the educational institutions after the second wave early this year.
A decision to open the colleges was taken in view of a significant drop in the Coronavirus cases and also due to persistent demand from students to start physical classes. However, not all students seem to be returning to classes.
“The response, as per information from the districts, including Shimla, was somewhat lukewarm as far as attendance is concerned. Nevertheless, we will monitor the situation as there are chances of attendance improving in the next few days” said Secretary (Edu) Rajeev Sharma.
The officials in the education department said offline undergraduate classes of government, private and Sanskrit colleges will be held under strict Covid guidelines. Authorities will also ensure appropriate behaviour on the campus.
The heads of the colleges and principals have been advised to implement 50 per cent capacity in classrooms. If the number of students increases, they should be accommodated in another classroom.
Proper thermal screening, use of masks, proper handwashing, social distancing and sanitation of classrooms and avoidance of unnecessary gathering is to be observed strictly, said Sharma.
Students returning to colleges, however, looked quite excited and even supported the reopening of the colleges to their full capacity.
“We have suffered a huge loss to our studies due to the pandemic but now the situation has improved. When political rallies can be held openly in defiance of the Covid norms, why should the educational institutions remain closed? The teachers and principals are there to enforce the Covid norms and students are also aware of Covid appropriate behaviour,” said Sunil Kumar, a student at Shimla’s Kotshera college.
Kumar claimed that due to poor connectivity and other technical issues, online classes had not been able to successfully impart quality education to all and that and teaching remained affected. Some students in the interiors and remote mountain villages could not get proper connectivity and thus missed many classes.
Vivek Kumar, a teacher at Rajiv Gandhi College, Shimla said the students were happy to come back to the classrooms. “They are also observing proper distancing and using masks,” the teacher said.
In Himachal Pradesh apart from 132 government colleges, there are eight Sanskrit colleges,50 private colleges and 71 B.Ed colleges along with 17 private universities
Officials said the cabinet meeting proposed to be held on September 4 may take a call on the opening of schools. One of the reasons in favour of reopening schools and collegs was the success of the state’s vaccination drive in inoculating over 100 per cent of the state above 18 population including teachers and non-teaching staff.
There are 1,565 active Covid-19 cases in Himachal Pradesh at present, a notable drop from 2800 last month. Till now 3,586 persons have died of the virus in Himachal Pradesh.
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