The universities in the country are all set to start a phase-wise reopening procedure, resuming their operations as per the government’s instructions on September 15 (tomorrow), conditional to upholding the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and guidelines shared by the Higher Education Commission (HEC).
HEC Chairman Tariq Banuri announced this while addressing the 32nd Vice-Chancellors’ (VCs) Committee meeting, that was attended by more than 150 VCs, Rectors, and Presidents of universities to discuss the reopening plans and procedures.
He said the HEC and the government have full confidence in the university heads that they will be able to adopt all measures needed for the protection of the campus community, without compromising the quality and delivery of education.
He said that COVID-19 has made almost all academic operations more difficult, and dedicated personal leadership of the Vice-Chancellors is needed to inspire both the faculty and the students, and also to ensure that educational standards are maintained and anti-COVID SOPs are strictly enforced. “I call upon all of you to resist any attempts to lower the quality of education,” he emphasized.
HEC chairman affirmed that the universities will follow the HEC’s guidelines to contain the spread of COVID-19 and will firmly implement their respective reopening policies.
These guidelines are available on the HEC website and include the permission to open universities on 15 September, measures to screen out potentially infected individuals, and the minimum SOPs to be followed on campus.
The measures prescribed in the guidelines include wearing face masks in public places, maintaining social distance, and undertaking strict monitoring to identify and isolate any incidence of the disease.
Within these guidelines, universities have to adopt suitable policies regarding rotation of courses or other relevant measures to ensure proper social distancing and manage population density.
Banuri strongly rebutted the news circulating in a section of press that HEC had directed all universities to adopt a uniform policy for rotation of courses or managing social density.
He said the universities should adopt the policies and measures that suit their respective circumstances, and in line with their local needs.
The most important responsibility of the Vice-Chancellors is to announce clear and unambiguous policies, assign responsibilities to various key personnel (both faculty and staff members), establish proper lines of communication, refrain from arbitrary or ad hoc policy changes, and remain in personnel command of the evolving situation.
He said that they must maintain vigilance to prevent and control any incidents of virus recurrence, including thorough active surveillance of health conditions, earmarking isolation facilities, and facilitating access to medical and isolation facilities.