Medical, dental colleges prepare for Monday opening
Following the State government’s green signal, medical, dental colleges and allied health institutions are making preparations to welcome students back to campus from Monday. Practicals and clinical postings for students, many of whom, have expressed their dissatisfaction with online classes, will be prioritised. However, heads of institutes that The Hindu spoke to said they will continue with hybrid sessions, where students will be able to attend classes online if they wish to do so.
The Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS), in a circular issued on Saturday, stated that only students, teaching and non-teaching staff, who have taken at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination, may be permitted to attend classes physically. The onus of ensuring that SOPs are followed rests on individual institutions. RGUHS also instructed institution heads to submit a compliance report after reopening.
Balakrishna P. Shetty, V-C, Sri Siddhartha Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, said that with experts predicting a third wave in a couple of months, online classes will continue to be held. “We will have hybrid sessions, where students who wish to attend classes online may continue to do so, while others can attend physical classes,” he said, and added that there would be no college events or functions.
“Wearing masks is mandatory in all areas on college premises; but there will be no change in the seating arrangement in the classrooms,” he said.
Some institutions had decided to split classes to ensure that not more than half of the lecture hall or classroom is occupied. Areas most frequented by students, such as canteens and libraries, will be restricted.
Students yet to return
S. Kumar, executive secretary, Consortium of Deemed Universities in Karnataka, said that hybrid sessions may be conducted, but only for a limited period. “Though institutions are likely to reopen on Monday, not all students will be in a position to report to campus. Many students returned to their hometowns across the country, and may not be able to come back in time for physical classes. Colleges should take a decision on setting a deadline for the end of online classes,” he said, and added that skill-based teaching and training, which is part of the medical curriculum, can only be possible through physical classes.
Students’ organisations are, however, critical of the reopening of the academic institutions. Amaresh Kadagada, State president, Students’ Federation of India, said that institutions should not make attendance to physical classes compulsory. He also said the government must bear the medical expenses of students who contract COVID-19.
Sithara H.M., State Secretariat member, All India Democratic Students’ Organisation, said that only a fraction of students had been vaccinated. “By stating that only those who have taken at least one dose should be allowed, the State is discriminating against those who are yet to be vaccinated. Institutions should reopen only when 100% of students in the state are completely vaccinated,” she said.