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Covid spike defers classes on campus

The rise in cases has also prompted the National Institute of Technology, Durgapur to push back its decision on recalling the final-year BTech students
Partha Chatterjee
Partha Chatterjee
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Subhankar Chowdhury   |   Calcutta   |   Published 15.03.21, 01:35 AM

In-person classes in colleges and universities in the state are unlikely to be held in the upcoming semester, to start in April, because of a fresh rise in the number of Covid-19 cases, an official in the education department said.

The spike in cases has also prompted the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Durgapur, to defer implementing its decision to recall final-year BTech students to the campus.

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Ramakrishna Mission Residential College, Narendrapur, an autonomous college under Calcutta University, has issued a notice announcing that it will conduct mid-semester, tutorial examinations and internal assessment in the online mode in the upcoming semester.

Education minister Partha Chatterjee had said on February 3 after a meeting with vice-chancellors that colleges and universities would not open for in-person classes in the ongoing semester ending March.

He had left it to the VCs to decide whether in-person classes could be held for the semester starting in April.

However, an official of the education department said in-person classes were unlikely to begin before June. “Covid-19 cases are rising in Bengal and many other states. It would not be prudent to start in-person classes from April. We need to wait and watch how the situation unfolds and take a decision by June.”

Several VCs Metro spoke to on Sunday opposed the resumption of in-person classes now. All of them expressed the fear that any gathering on the campus could aggravate the Covid situation and doubted whether the physical distancing norm, a key precautionary measure against Covid-19, could be observed in hostels, where each room is shared by multiple students.

“In a university, students come from states beyond Bengal. The number of Covid cases is rising in Bengal and other states. Allowing students on the campus could be risky. What if students from other states come from containment zones?” wondered a VC who did not want to be named.

A notice issued by Ramakrishna Mission Residential College, Narendrapur, on March 10 said undergraduate and postgraduate theory classes in the upcoming semester would end by June 30 and classes would be held on digital platforms.

“Since CU has not told us anything about the resumption of in-person classes, it is clear that classes will continue to be held on digital platforms,” said an official of the college.

St Xavier’s College, also an autonomous college under Calcutta University, started holding classes of the even semester (second, fourth and sixth) from mid-February in the online mode, said principal Father Dominic Savio.

Soumya Sen Sharma, the registrar of NIT Durgapur, said the institute had put on hold its decision to bring back final-year BTech students to the campus from March 15 following the rise in Covid cases across the country.

The institute had decided to bring students of the eighth semester so that they could attend lab classes, which cannot be held online.

Around half the students at the NIT are from other states. “The rise in Covid cases has prompted us to delay the recall,” said Sen Sharma.

Calls to education minister Partha Chatterjee went unanswered. He did not reply to a text message from this newspaper either.



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