Colleges and universities in Punjab reopened on Monday after being shut for almost eight months because of the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said.
The decision to open these educational institutions in areas outdoor COVID-19 containment zones was once taken by the state government earlier this month.
Institutions have been directed to strictly observe COVID-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) framed by their respective administrative departments in consultation with the state health branch and the Union health ministry.
Earlier an official spokesperson had said that “all higher education, medical education and research and technical education institutions, including all universities and colleges in areas outdoor containment zones in the state would be allowed to re-open from November 16”.
The educational institutions in the state were closed from March 24 because of the coronavirus outbreak.
In the first phase of reopening, only final-year students of departments such as science, medicine, engineering and technology where hands-on training is an fundamental a part of the curriculum will be called for attending classes, followed by students of other courses, according to the SOPs.
In hostels, not multiple student will be accommodated per room to start with and educational institutes have kept separate gates for entry and exit of students and staff. Thermal screening, hand sanitising, wearing of masks, social distancing in classrooms, with no more than 50 per cent of complete strength of students being called to attend classes, are a part of the SOPs.
Despite the fact that attendance was once thin on the first day, majority of students across the state said they were happy to attend steady classes.
“Online classes have helped us all over these months, but these cannot match steady classes where we meet our teachers face-to-face in a campus surroundings. There are distractions and limitations while studying at home,” said a student outdoor a government college in Bathinda.