Over 7 months since universities and other educational institutions across the country shut down after a countrywide lockdown was announced to contain the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak, the University Grants Commission has now issued guidelines for their reopening.

Here are the key aspects of the standard operating procedure issued by the UGC:

* The institutions should train their staff and students to assist and undertake the work related to safety and health to prevent an outbreak of the pandemic in their campuses. Non-resident students should be allowed in campuses only after thermal scanning, sanitization of their hands, wearing of face masks and gloves. Symptomatic persons should not be permitted to enter the campus and should be advised to contact the nearest hospital for clinical assessment. 

* Regular visits of a counsellor may be arranged so that students can talk with the counsellor about their anxiety, stress or fear.

* To avoid the risk of transmission, the students, faculty and staff should be screened and symptomatic ones be advised to get clinically assessed before allowing them entry into the campus.

* Teaching hours in a day may be extended, as per requirements of the institution. Universities and colleges may consider reducing the class size and break them in
multiple sections to maintain physical distancing during the classes.

*  Cleaning and regular disinfection (using 1% sodium hypochlorite) of frequently touched surfaces (door knobs, elevator buttons, hand rails, chairs, benches, washroom fixtures, etc.) to be made mandatory in all class rooms, laboratories, (and also) lockers, parking areas, other common areas etc. before the beginning of classes and at the end of the day. Teaching materials, computers, laptops, printers, shall be regularly disinfected with 70% alcohol swipe.

* Sitting places in classes, laboratories, computer labs, libraries etc. should be clearly marked, keeping in view the norms of physical distancing. At least one seat should be left vacant between two seats.

* Wearing face cover/ mask is a must at all times and at all places inside the campus.

* Hand washing stations with facilities of liquid soap should be created so that every student can wash her/ his hands frequently.

* Isolation facilities for symptomatic persons and quarantine facilities for those who were in contact with the positively tested persons should be there on campus or a tie-up may be made in advance with some government hospital or approved premises or as advised by the local authorities so that, in case of necessity, prompt action may be taken. Proper arrangement of safety, health, food, water etc. should be ensured for those in quarantine and isolation facilities.

* For those who have tested positive, isolation facilities should be in place either on campus itself or as a prior arrangement with some nearby hospital(s) or as advised by the local authorities.

* Universities and colleges should prepare a policy for restricting the outside experts on campuses, study tours, field works etc., keeping in mind the COVID-19 situation.

* All such programmes and extracurricular activities should be avoided where physical distancing is not possible.

* Spitting in the campus must be made a punishable offence.

* Dustbins must be cleaned and covered properly.

* Dustbin for collection of used facemasks, personal protective equipment, hand gloves and their disposals should be ensured as per safety norms

* Clean and hygienic conditions, as per safety and health advisories of the concerned government departments, are to be maintained at all places, including hostel kitchens, mess, washrooms, libraries, class rooms etc.

* Proper signages, symbols, posters etc. should be prominently displayed at appropriate places to remind the students, faculty and staff for maintaining physical distancing. The details of COVID-19 cell established by the institution be prominently displayed containing the emergency number, helpline number, email id and contact details of persons to be contacted in case of any emergency in the institution.

* Ensure the norms of physical distancing, sanitization and hygienic conditions for use of common facilities, viz., Auditorium, Conference/ Seminar halls, Sports, Gymnasium, Canteen, Parking Area etc        

* Adequate arrangements of thermal scanners, sanitizers, face masks should be made available at all entry and exit points, including the reception area

* 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.

Access the complete UGC notification, HERE