Maharashtra Higher and Technical Education Minister Uday Samant on Wednesday said that universities and colleges in the State would reopen from February 15, with 50% attendance.

Mr. Samant said that the 75% mandatory attendance required to appear for the examination had been waived in view of the novel coronavirus.

“All colleges will have to adhere to the health guidelines and the standard operating procedures (SOPs). As far as conducting examinations are concerned, the universities will have to decide on whether to go for online or offline or to keep both the options open,” the minister said at a press conference.

Mr. Samant further said that college and university hostels would be opened in phases as at many places hostels had been converted into quarantine centres.

“We held a videoconference on February 1 with all the vice-chancellors to know their opinions about reopening of colleges and universities. It was directed to formulate SOPs for curriculum, examination management, and hostels etc.,” he said, adding that the local civic body administration needed to be taken into confidence before reopening colleges.

“Electric and safety audits of all the hostels should be carried out before reopening them for students,” the minister said.

Mr. Samant had engaged in a duel with Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari during the lockdown period over conducting university examinations. To avoid conflict this time, the government chose to seek opinions of the VCs, collectors, and local administration before going ahead.

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