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Varsities, colleges in Bengal not to reopen now: Edu minister

Varsities, colleges in Bengal not to reopen now: Edu minister

Kolkata: The universities and colleges across the state will not reopen for students as of now. The decision was announced by state Education minister Partha Chatterjee after chairing a meeting with the Vice-Chancellors of all state-run universities on Wednesday.

The decision comes a day after the minister had announced that physical classes for students of class IX, X, XI and XII in schools can resume from February 12. The colleges and universities will remain closed till March and classes will be held online.

"We have discussed at length how to go on with academic activities amid the Covid situation. The odd semester classes and examinations will be held online till March. There will be no physical attendance for students in colleges and universities as of now," said Chatterjee.

The main hurdle for the commencement of physical classes in colleges and universities — as pointed out by a number of Vice-Chancellors in the meeting — was the reopening of hostels, maintaining Covid health protocols. "The students from other states, who pursue their higher education in the state universities and colleges, stay in hostels. It is difficult to have safety protocols in place there. So, if we start physical classes, these students hailing from other states will remain deprived," pointed out a Vice-Chancellor of a North Bengal university.

However, the Education department has given nod to the reopening of laboratories for research scholars. The researchers will have to apply to the universities on the basis of which the latter will decide the schedule for the same, following all necessary norms.

Colleges and the universities have been holding online classes since September. Some of the universities like Jadavpur University and Sidho Kanho Birsha University have also provided smartphones to students to bridge the digital divide.

The Election Commission has also sent requisition to some universities and colleges for setting up distribution centres in these institutions with the Assembly polls in Bengal likely to be held in April. The election dates are likely to be announced latest by the second or third week of February. The decision regarding the reopening of schools and colleges will be taken after further review of the situation in April.

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