Resumption of face-to-face courses in private universities
While our public universities have already reopened rooms and libraries and have more or less set the dates for the reopening of their respective institutions, the country’s private universities have not yet finalized the date for resuming face-to-face classes, because a majority of their students are still getting vaccinated against Covid-19. According to a report in that daily, more than 70 percent of students have signed up for vaccines so far, but only 40 percent of them have received the first dose of the vaccine. And universities cannot resume classes on campus until their teachers and students have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine or are registered to receive the vaccines, as per the University guideline. Grants Commission.
While we understand that private universities do not wish to make a hasty decision about resuming face-to-face classes, as this involves both the safety of teachers and students, we also believe that they should take proactive measures to facilitate the process of vaccinating their students.
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We have also learned that many private universities are planning to hold online courses and exams for several more months, even though they set the dates for the courses on campus. We believe this is a smart move because our universities cannot just go back to the old method of teaching in the post-pandemic situation, rather they should go for some kind of mixed / hybrid teaching method, which means that they should continue with online education alongside classroom education. This is the lesson the pandemic has taught us.
However, while it would be easier for private universities to opt for some kind of blended learning, it will not be as easy for public universities to do so due to the existing digital divide. We have seen how our public universities have struggled to deliver online courses over the past year and a half due to their students’ lack of access to necessary devices and internet connections. We believe that both private and public university authorities need to work on how they can bridge this digital divide in the future.
Coming back to the issue of resuming face-to-face classes in private universities, the government should set up vaccination centers on campuses to speed up the student vaccination process. Private university authorities should discuss the matter with the General Directorate of Health Services (DGHS) to facilitate the vaccination process as well. Private universities should resume in-person classes as soon as possible, taking into account the safety and well-being of their students.