– Mita Mukherjee
Colleges and universities in West Bengal will not reopen immediately and students will be taught during the ongoing odd semester only through online mode, Bengal education minister Partha Chatterjee said on Wednesday.
The semester end examinations will also be held online.
Students’ hostels will remain closed but research scholars will be allowed to attend the campuses for doing their research work in the laboratories, the education minister said.
The decision on not reopening colleges and universities for resumption of physical classes was taken considering the interests of students, the minister said.
Chatterjee today held a discussion with vice-chancellors of all state-aided and private universities in Bengal at a meeting of the West Bengal Higher Education Council where the decision was taken.
“We all know that earlier, the vice-chancellors of all universities had unanimously proposed to teach the students through online classes in the odd semester. The vice-chancellors gave the same opinion even today. We have accepted their proposal. We have decided not to reopen the colleges and universities now. Classes will be held online. The odd semesters, first, third, fifth, seventh will end on March 31,” Chatterjee said at a press conference after the meeting with the vice-chancellors.
A senior official of the higher education department said most the vice-chancellors were reluctant to reopen the students’ hostels as this could lead to Covid-19 infections among students.
“They (vice-chancellors) don’t want to reopen the hostels. So we have decided to keep the hostels closed. We want to ensure that students are taught properly. At the same time we are also concerned about their health,” the minister said.
The even semesters in colleges and universities will begin in April.
The minister said a section of parents and students had approached him and wanted to know whether the institutions would reopen for physical teaching in the even semester.
The Assembly elections in Bengal are scheduled in April-May.
Chatterjee said since the election dates are likely to be declared within April,the vice-chancellors will decide when they would be able to resume the in-person classes.
The minister had announced on Tuesday that the schools in Bengal will reopen on February 12 for students of Classes IX to XII.
The state government is preparing detailed guidelines for the schools for holding the physical classes, he said today.
He also said that universities and colleges will be allowed to hold Saraswati Puja on February 16 adhering to the health protocols.
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