IIT Kharagpur has reduced the period of quarantine from seven to three days for the students who are being called back to the campus so the inflow could be increased.
“The period of quarantine has been reduced from seven to three days following an appeal from the students’ senate,” said Dhrubajyoti Sen, the dean of students.
“We have also consulted doctors, who told us we could try the model experimentally for a month or so. The reduction is intended to increase the inflow of students to the campus.”
The new rule, he said, will be applicable from the start of November.
Once the quarantine period for a student is over, he or she shifts to hostels, from where they can attend online classes or go to labs.
The IIT has been recalling in phases research scholars and postgraduate and BTech students who are encountering resource constraints at home.
In the current system, students on arrival on the campus have to quarantine for a week. After that the quarantine facilities are sanitised, a process that takes three days, before the next batch of students can move in.
“In the current system, students can be called back thrice a month. Once the new rule takes effect, we can recall students four times a month. If this model is implemented over the next few months, the number of students on the campus will increase substantially within a comparatively shorter period,” he said.
A teacher said research scholars are eager to come as the absence of access to the lab has increased the backlog and they are worried about completing the research on time.
“Many IITs have recalled even those scholars who enrolled last year. IIT Kharagpur has yet to recall the batch of 2019,” the teacher said.
The IIT Kharagpur teachers’ association had in early August written to Union education minister Dharmendra Pradhan accusing the authorities of indifference towards the need of research scholars.
The letter had stated “some of the IITs have brought their research scholars to almost full strength by upgrading the medical facilities on the campus”.
A teacher said the institute was now trying to make up for the delay by tweaking the quarantine period.
The institute has over 3,500 research scholars.
“The institute will restore the seven-day-quarantine rule if the new system results in any adverse outcome,” another official said.
The seven-day rule is being followed so the students coming from homes using public transport could be kept under observation to detect whether they are developing symptoms associated with Covid.
“If anybody felt sick, we would get them tested and treated. The symptoms may not be apparent within three days,” he said.