Vice-chancellors of state universities in West Bengal have had a discussion. And they have recommended that the government continues the suspension of classes till June 30. This is because the COVID-19 outbreak and Cyclone Amphan have created a disruptive situation.
ABOUT THE RECOMMENDATION FOR SUSPENSION OF CLASSES TILL JUNE 30 IN WEST BENGAL.
Education Minister Partha Chatterjee had stated that the state government will let the universities decide on the possible date of reopening of colleges. This was because he was waiting for a recommendation from the Vice- chancellors’ council).
“Academic activities on campuses will remain suspended till June 30. This is the recommendation of the Upacharya Parishad (Bengal Vice-chancellors’ Council) to the West Bengal government”
Subiresh Bhattacharya, general secretary of the body and vice-chancellor of the North Bengal University said this.
The vice-chancellors took a resolution regarding this, in a meeting held on Friday. And along with this, several other issues were also discussed. These were:-
– Maintaining the academic calendar since the suspension of classes and campus activities.
– Ways to conduct final semester exams
– Benefits of taking online classes.
THE STATE GOVERNMENT’S ANNOUNCEMENT.
On May 27, the state government announced that the state-run schools will remain closed till June 30. This was not only because of the damages caused to the school buildings by the cyclone. But also because some educational institutes are being used as quarantine centres.
Eventually, the vice chancellors agreed upon the suspension of classes till June 30 in West Bengal. The VC council consists of representatives of all the 20 state universities in West Bengal. Soon after the decision, most of the universities immediately informed their students regarding the suspension of classes.
CURRENT SITUATION OF WEST BENGAL.
The Coronavirus Pandemic:
The ongoing Coronavirus outbreak started off with really low numbers. But just within a few weeks, the number of cases have risen. And they have risen quite a lot.
The number of cases in West Bengal are more than 5700. But more than 70 patients have died because of the virus. And thus, many schools and colleges are being used as Quarantine facilities. Because of the outbreak, the state government announced the suspension of classes till June 30.
Aftermath of cyclone Amphan:
The super intense cyclonic storm had caused major destruction in the state. Not only did it disrupt the rail link, but also caused damage to many institutional buildings. Few lives were lost too because of the cyclone.
Many families are now homeless. And many others cannot go to school. Because the road to their school is either damaged, or blocked by uprooted trees.
There is still a lot of confusion regarding terminal exams. Conducting terminal exams post-lockdown period is an issue. Because of the pandemic, we do not know when the cases will end. And so reopening the schools and colleges is uncertain. The confusion lies whether terminal exams should be taken online or offline.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, earlier announced that only final semester exams will be held in this academic year. And the UGC publicly approved this letter. Earlier on April 29, the UGC announced the reopening of schools in August.
SITUATION OF THE UNIVERSITIES.
Because of the unknown duration of lockdown, all the universities are facing a difficult choice. “We have to reopen the institutes soon. But we cannot risk the safety of students. We have to conduct terminal exams. But it is not possible to take on campus exams.”
Because of these issues, they considered online examinations as an option. But not everyone has a stable internet. Or a proper device. Moreover, many students from the rural areas lost their homes.
After looking into these problems, the vice chancellors found it best to extend the suspension of schools till June 30 in West Bengal.
POST SCHOOL REOPENING AFTER SUSPENSION OF CLASSES TILL JUNE 30.
Students are likely to attend classes on alternate days after schools reopen. This is because it will help observe social distancing measures.
“The schools will be asked to follow an ‘alternate model’ and the department will ensure that classes take place adhering to social distancing norms,”
Education Minister Partha Chatterjee told the reporters on Thursday.
The reporters asked him to elaborate on the ‘alternate model’. But he said that the details would be informed later. It could possibly mean this. One set of students of a particular class attend school on every alternate day.
Private educational institutes are free to follow this schedule. But it is not compulsory. They can make their own time table.