New Delhi: Educational institutions and state governments are planning to vaccinate as many students in the eligible age group as possible before colleges reopen for physical classes, ThePrint has learnt.
Since the eligible age for vaccination in India is currently 18 and above, this will benefit both undergraduate and postgraduate students as most of them are in the 18-23 age bracket.
Sources told ThePrint that the Ministry of Education has unofficially communicated to the institutes to be prepared for phased reopening of colleges, which includes ensuring that the maximum number of students and staff are vaccinated.
ThePrint has sent an email to the Ministry of Education for comment. This report will be updated when a response is received.
Some of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and universities like Delhi University have already started vaccination drive for their students.
Among states, Karnataka plans to inoculate its students by July, and Hyderabad colleges have started the vaccination drive. Kerala is planning phased reopening of colleges upon vaccination of students and staff.
Vaccine details on admission forms
Sources also said that the vaccination details will also be sought by colleges on students’ admission forms, i.e. whether they have received the first dose, both doses or none. All students, including second and final-year students, will have to inform their institution about the vaccination status before they join physical classes.
The institutes will help those students get inoculated who are eligible for vaccination but still haven’t got even a single shot. In the case of first-year students, if they become eligible after joining the institute, they can take the help of their college for vaccination, sources said.
“It is not feasible to continue studies online for more than a year. This is especially unfair to students in technical courses who need to utilise lab facilities. Hence, we are working on getting students back on campus. If the condition is favourable and more and more people are vaccinated, students should be able to come back on campus later this year,” said an education ministry source.
Vaccine drive begins in colleges
Calling students back to campus after vaccinating them is the model being followed globally as well. Some of the top universities in the United States such as the Columbia University and New York University have made vaccination a mandatory requirement before students join classes on campus.
In India, IITs are working in the same direction. IIT-Bombay held a three-day vaccination drive on 21 June on its campus. IIT-Delhi also plans on vaccinating its students for their safer return to campus. A senior official from the institute told ThePrint, “We want to ensure that students are back to campus safely, we (will) help in vaccination of students and call them back to campus if the situation remains favourable.”
IIT-Madras is also trying to ensure its staff and students are vaccinated before the campus reopens. “At IIT-Madras, a large fraction of students, and faculty, staff and their dependents who are residents on campus have at least taken their first dose. As far as students at home are concerned we have requested them to get vaccinated ASAP so that as and when it becomes possible, they can return to campus. Vaccination can be an important protection,” an official spokesperson at the institute told ThePrint.
Delhi University also started vaccination drive for eligible students from 21 June, Day 1 of the central government’s free vaccination programme for all adults.
In its revised academic calendar released for the year 2021-22 on 18 June, the technical education regulator All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has also hinted that classes could start in offline mode if the situation is favourable.
“Classes could start in Online/Offline (Class Room) or Blended mode (Online as well as Offline) following the prescribed protocols/guidelines related to Pandemic,” the notice for revised academic calendar said.
It added that the “Academic Calendar may change subject to conditions existing due to Pandemic and guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health/ Ministry of Home/ Ministry of Education from time to time.”