It takes days, weeks, months, or years, but someday the campuses are certain to light up with the presence of students, professors, and staff alike. Greeting each other, teaching students, taking classroom lessons, going to department meetings, heading into the library, and enjoying time at the canteen will no longer seem strange and uncomfortable. And we will perform these activities without reaching out for masks or grabbing our wipes – also, without wondering if we committed the biggest mistake of our lives.
How and when will colleges be reopened?
We are gradually seeing an increasing number of students return to the classroom. However, over a billion aspirants are still out of schools, colleges, and universities due to partial world-wide closures. Given the difficulty of the circumstances across India, states are in different minds regarding when and how they plan to open educational institutions. At present, the best interest of every student is at the center of every decision, using the best possible alternative, but how this will look will vary from institute to institute.
After months to almost a year at home, students have most probably lost their professors’ face-to-face support. However, the need of the hour at this point remains some extra student support and cooperation. More than ever before, the learning gaps are likely to widen and a lot of students, may perhaps, be found looking at smartphones or being indulged in playing video games.
Some of the practical measures that Hyderabad’s premier institute, VJIM, has taken, include:
- Holding classes in shifts, to reduce class size
- Increasing mealtimes
- Bringing a shift in the classroom seating arrangement
- Hosting cultural and social activities in temporary spaces or outdoors
- Special emphasis on improving hygiene and water facilities
- Setting up guidance on physical distancing, respiratory etiquette (i.e., sneezing and coughing into the elbow)
- Safe food preparation practices
Students, not just across the country but world-over, have shown how much they are willing to learn. And thus, VJIM has made plans for catch-up lessons to help them bounce back to speed. Given the possibility that the institute may not function full-time or all-days of the week, the institute is looking to implement a ‘blended learning model’ – a mix of remote education and classroom instruction. These are big changes and they are certain to require work, resources, and creativity from administrators, faculty, and students. But at the same time, they are also great opportunities!