The University Grants Commission (UGC) on Thursday issued guidelines for reopening of universities and colleges across the country which have been closed since March in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For central universities and other centrally funded higher education institutions, the decision for reopening of campuses has been left to the Vice Chancellors and heads. However, for state universities and colleges, the respective state governments will have to take a call, the guidelines said.
"For centrally funded higher education institutions, the head should satisfy herself or himself regarding the feasibility of opening of physical classes and decide accordingly," the guidelines said.
"For all other institutions including state universities, private universities, and colleges, opening of physical classes to be done as per the decision of the respective state governments," they said.
The universities and colleges have been asked to plan the opening of campuses in a phased manner, with such activities that adhere to COVID-19 norms including social distancing, use of face masks and other protective measures.
"The universities and colleges shall only be allowed to open if they are outside the containment zones. Further, students and staff living in containment zones will not be allowed to attend the colleges," the guidelines said.
"Students and staff shall also be advised not to visit areas falling within containment zones. The faculty, staff and students of the university and college should be encouraged to download 'Aarogya Setu App'," they said.
"Students of all research programmes and post-graduate students in science and technology programmes may join as the number of such students is comparatively less and norms of physical distancing and preventive measures can be easily enforced."
"Final year students may also be allowed to join for academic and placement purposes, as per the decision of the head of the institution," it added.
The commission has said that the institutions should have a plan ready for such international students who could not join the programme due to international travel restrictions or visa-related issues.
"Hostels may be opened only in such cases where it is necessary while strictly observing the safety and health preventive measures. However, the sharing of rooms may not be allowed in hostels. Symptomatic students should not be permitted to stay in the hostels under any circumstances," it said.
Universities across the country were closed on March 16 in order to contain the spread of coronavirus. A nationwide lockdown was announced on March 25.