Mumbai: Surge in COVID-19 Cases Forcing Colleges to Go Back to Online Learning

Mumbai: Surge in COVID-19 Cases Forcing Colleges to Go Back to Online Learning
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With steps being taken to resume physical classes for college students across Mumbai, the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in the city has led to a change of course to some extent. Some colleges in Mumbai are now postponing schedules for physical classes while a few colleges that recently resumed in-person practical classes have shifted to online lectures completely. 

This comes as several colleges across the city last month decided to resume physical classes despite having no concrete guidelines to go by. 

Principal KC College, Churchgate, Hemlata Bagla said, “Our students were worried about not understanding important practical concepts online. So with the consent of their parents, we had started allowing 15-20 students to our laboratories each day for practical sessions.”

She added that colleges are currently running practical classes wherein four to five lectures are conducted consecutively so as to compensate for the lack of physical classes in the foreseeable future. 

But the preliminary exams for final-year students in their institution which commences on March 3, will be conducted entirely online, the principal said.

Meanwhile, another college in the city’s suburbs had previously asked its students to attend physical classes in batches of not more than 20 to 25. The college has now put this schedule on hold. “For the time being, we are holding back our plans for physical reopening of colleges and will instead continue online classes itself,” the principal of this college was quoted as saying by HT.

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In early February, the State Minister for Higher and Technical Education, Uday Samant had said that colleges will be permitted to reopen with a capacity of not more than 50 per cent. This was followed by the University of Mumbai (MU) sending out a circular asking colleges within its purview to seek approval from the local collectors’ office before resuming classes. 

The circular by MU also detailed the COVID-19 safety guidelines as recommended by the University Grants Commission (UGC) in order to keep the students and the staff safe during the pandemic.   

ReadSome Mumbai Colleges Resume Classes; Others Unsure Due To Spike In COVID-19 Cases

All of this came to a standstill when the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) asked MU after a meeting on Feb 12 to postpone the reopening of physical classes at colleges to February 22. But after this, the Higher Education Minister or civic authorities in the region have failed to offer proper guidance with regard to reopening. This, the colleges say, has forced them into moving classes to the online format. 

Marie Fernandes, Principal of St Andrew’s College, Bandra, said that they are already beginning preparations for exams. “Last time [winter 2020 exam session], we had very little time to prepare, and colleges were asked to put together question papers in multiple-choice questions (MCQs) format. But this time, we will try to incorporate more descriptive type questions along with MCQs in the papers. Whatever the decision of the university or the state education department, colleges are preparing for exams already,” she said.

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