Karnataka colleges can open canteens and hostels, and have cultural events

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Offline classes for students of undergraduate, postgraduate, engineering and diploma courses will resume on January 15, the Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Higher Education CN Ashwath Narayan had announced on Monday. With the reopening date, he also announced new standard operation protocols (SOPs) for colleges. He further said that the decision to reopen colleges was done after consulting the concerned officials and is based on a report submitted by vice-chancellors. He also added that students who do not have symptoms of COVID-19 need not undergo any test.

The minister said, “Offline classes were already being conducted for final-year students and there has been no issues in the functioning of the classes; we can begin conducting classes for other students as well.”

In the new SOPs issued, it is mentioned that shared places on campuses like hostels, libraries and other facilities will have to be thoroughly sanitized before the students are permitted to use them. Further, the National Cadet Corps and National Service Scheme classes can resume as well.

“Students attending the physical classes can start inhabiting on-campus or off-campus hostels soon,” the minister said, further explaining, “We have contacted the social welfare and Backward Class departments to follow the norms and implement the SOPs in their respective hostels. Colleges can also start hosting cultural and sports programs with the NSS and NCC activities.”

Colleges will set up COVID-19 testing and sanitising facilities and follow social distancing norms, Narayan affirmed. In the SOP, the minister has also instructed colleges to install a thermal scanning system mandatorily outside the gates.

College authorities have also been instructed to map the nearest primary healthcare centres, where pupils can be treated in case of emergencies. Moreover, teaching staff have to send the material for each class in advance to students, through email, WhatsApp or Telegram.

“We have also spoken to the Road Transport Department to pace the process of distributing bus passes to the students at the earliest. The college managements should approach departmental offices in the vicinity to further pace the process of issuance of the passes,” he said to the press.

However, some guidelines remain the same. The number of students attending offline classes cannot exceed the 50% limit. Moreover, those attending offline classes will have to submit a consent letter signed by their parents before coming to the institutions.

(With IANS inputs)