Targeting the reopening of colleges in the State in a phased manner, the government has commenced deliberations on resuming academic activities from January 1.
While holding classes for undergraduate (UG) course could present challenges in adhering to COVID-19 norms, the government is actively pursuing the resumption of classes for the postgraduate (PG) batches, especially in the teaching departments of State universities, most of which have fewer than 30 students.
Karnataka partially opened its colleges and universities for final-year UG and PG classes last week and other States are going ahead with plans to follow suit. Moreover, the General Education Department in Kerala has also been toying with the idea of reopening higher secondary classes.
Following a suggestion made by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, the Higher Education Department had moved a file in the first week of November. However, a high-power committee chaired by the Chief Minister is yet to deliberate on the matter, official sources said.
While the final decision hinged on the possibility of an anticipated surge in COVID-19 cases following the local body elections, other factors such as discontinuing COVID-19 first-line treatment centres in colleges will also be taken into consideration.
Meanwhile, the government is also eyeing steps to make up for the slow progress in covering topics through online learning. The Kerala State Higher Education Council has asked to study the possibility of reorienting the academic year by introducing a trimester pattern in place of the usual two semesters per academic year.
While premier institutions, including IIT-Madras, have adopted the reform, the State would require the concurrence of the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to ensure the degrees issued by the universities are deemed equivalent to those provided for courses under the conventional pattern.
The government will also take a call on trimming vacations and possibly providing additional compensation for the faculty in lieu of the semester breaks.