Back in college, but with caution

Back in college, but with caution

Colleges in Karnataka, which were shut in March in the wake of Covid-19, have opened after a gap of eight months. 

After months of uncertainty, the state government has given higher educational institutes the permission to reopen, while schools remain closed.

While most colleges have started offline classes only for final year students, some colleges are continuing with online classes due to fear of the virus. Though online classes ensured that learning continued, many educators feel that offline classes are more effective.

“Online education is ineffective because of the basic character of education, and not merely because of the lack of access to the net and online resources. Education requires physical presence, attention, thought and emotion, all to be sewn towards learning goals, step by step. This requires intense verbal and non-verbal interaction amongst teachers and students, which is possible only in actual classes,” says Anurag Behar, vice-chancellor, Azim Premji University, Bengaluru.

Colleges that have reopened are also giving students the option to attend classes online.

“Our lecturers have been supportive of conducting offline classes, as they have been coming to college all these days. Now they are even willing to conduct regular class, record it and share it with those who are unable to come to college,” says Chowrira Jagath Thimmaiah, principal, Field Marshal K M Cariappa College in Madikeri, Kodagu.

Thimmaiah also says students in remote areas face issues of internet connectivity, and a lack of transport options to attend classes on campus. “So, we must cater to all sections of students,” he says.

Safety guidelines

Though charged with extra work, teachers are happy seeing their students back in college. 

“While teaching wearing masks and recording the class simultaneously is tough, it feels good to see students back in college. We only hope students abide by the rules in place to ensure their safety as well as that of others, as monitoring them at all times may not be possible,” says Darshan Madappa, assistant professor, First Grade College, Murnad, Kodagu.

The government and universities have issued several guidelines to ensure the safety of students and the teaching staff. Colleges have also arranged for tests to be conducted in the college campus itself, for convenience of students.

“As per the guidelines issued by the Mangalore University, we sanitise all the rooms and corridors three times a day. Sanitisers are placed at various entry and exit points, the body temperature of students and staff is measured before they enter the campus. Wearing masks is mandatory,” says Pattada Poovanna, principal, First Grade College, Murnad, Kodagu.

While colleges are ensuring proper sanitisation of the buildings, students are expected to be responsible and undergo self-quarantine, in case they come across any positive case or a family member tests positive.

“To ensure that social distancing is maintained, we allow only two students per bench. Canteens and libraries are closed to prevent crowding. We have arranged for separate rest / sick rooms and have a model officer to coordinate with authorities concerned incase a positive case is reported. More importantly, we keep stressing on the need to maintain distance, washing hands and using sanitisers regularly,” says Poovanna.

As students are to produce Covid test report, the attendance rate is still low. However, colleges expect the strength to increase in the coming days.

“Some of our students are from outside Karnataka, so they are supposed to undergo quarantine, get tested and only then attend classes. But otherwise, most of the students are quite keen to come back to college. Only a small percentage of students and parents are apprehensive about attending regular classes,” says Sandra Sequeira, director, JD Institute of Fashion Technology.

Final stretch

While most of the theory portions have been covered in online classes, colleges are now focusing on conducting practical classes.

“We trained teachers to take classes with due regard to all the precautions. Students have been divided into smaller batches and practical classes are conducted in well-sanitised labs,” Sandra says.

Coaching institutes for various competitive exams are also planning to restart offline classes, though in smaller batches.

“While most students are comfortable with live online classes, some students have been asking for offline classes. So we will be conducting offline classes for such students, and will allow only 50% occupancy of seats,” says Arjun Bopanna, founder of Bangalore IAS Academy.

Published at Tue, 24 Nov 2020 00:22:30 +0000