Despite MHA Orders, Allahabad University Opens Amid Pandemic

The University of Allahabad has been open since June 22 despite strict orders from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) against the same. The order, which was issued on June 29, said that the areas outside the containment zones, all activities shall be permitted except “schools, colleges, educational and coaching institutions will remain closed till July 31.”

The 11 colleges that fall under the university, which are located in different areas of the city, continue to run even as the number of COVID-19 cases rise. According to students, some colleges aren’t spacious enough to maintain physical distance and other safety norms. In addition, since professors and staff have started coming, a lot of research scholars could be seen loitering around the campus and meeting their friends, students say, further adding to the risk.

“Opening the university, if classes are not permitted and examinations are also barred, makes no sense. This will only hurt government efforts to curb the spread of the virus,” said a student.

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Moreover, on June 17, the university’s librarian and a professor tested positive for COVID-19, the Times of India reported. According to a local newspaper, samples of the vice chancellor, registrar, department heads among other 25 staff members were collected as soon as the reports came in. However, a lot of professors, the paper says, kept working for some time even though they were supposed to be quarantined at home after getting tested.

Neither the state, nor the Central government has issued any order with regard to opening educational institutions as of now. The MHA order, however, has stated that they will issue separate orders if and when they plan to open educational space in the coming weeks.

“Dates for re-starting the above activities may be decided separately and necessary SOPs shall be issued for ensuring social distancing and to contain the spread of COVID-19,” the order said.

The government, in fact, has been cancelling or deferring national-level exams across the country besides stressing on continuing classes and other educational activities online. Recently, the Central Board of Secondary Education cancelled the remaining exams of classes 10 and 12, keeping in view the risks involved in conducting offline exam at the moment. The exams were scheduled to be held on July 1.

The ICSE board also followed suit. On July 1, the Odisha government also cancelled the remaining exams of class 12 conducted by the Council of Higher Secondary Education, the New Indian Express reported.

At a time when most educational activities are being put on hold or cancelled, University of Allahabad’s decision to remain open has come as a shock to the students.

Featured image credit: PTI