Colleges in the country will reopen in a phase wise and the first year students will be called first. Sherubtse college in Kanglung, College of Science and Technology (CST), Gedu Business College and Royal Thimphu college have already started online classes for the students and they are all prepared to reopen.
Vice Chancellor of Royal University of Bhutan, Nidup Dorji said the colleges will open in a phase wise depending on the hostel capacity that the colleges have and each college has drawn up their own strategies on whom they want to call and in some cases, the college may call all students and in some they are going to be selective. However, they are all going to call the first year students and final year students. All the colleges are prioritizing first year students to be on the campus.
He said starting from next week, the colleges will start calling the students and some students are already there in the campus and online classes are going on. RUB has decided to call all students at different times, may be with a gap of one or two days to avoid inconvenience of getting transportation and colleges are going to discuss among themselves how they can facilitate it.
Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that the RUB as per their plan wants to have the first and final year on their campus with which the government has no problem and in his view if they can manage the first and last year then they can also take in middle year students for those with three year courses or the two middle years for those with four years courses.
“So we have no objections to their opening up the whole campus as it is up to them,” said the PM.
“When they gather on the campuses their lives will not be normal. They will have to maintain physical distancing as far as possible, they will have to wear masks, do hand washing and be super vigilant with any flu like symptoms. Should there be an outbreak on campus then our system is ready to manage and so that would be the new normal, “said the PM.
President of Sherubtse College in Kanglung, Tshering Wangdi said the college has already started with online classes for first year students on 1st September. Currently the college is closed but the faculties are accessing lab and internet facilities for teaching learning materials. Around 16 honors students are there in the campus and they are also attending online classes from on campus.
The president also shared that they have not faced much problem with online classes so far. There were some students especially first year students who were not used to online classes. College have also done a series of orientation and also made tutorials on how to use Zoom and how to get access for the first year students.
The students were formed in smaller groups to discuss on the problems and issues. He said few students had difficulties in terms of network issues otherwise there were no major problems.
Sherubtse College is prepared to take back the students and has already put in place hand washing facilities. This year, a total of 1,656 students are there. Although the college has enough and spacious hostels but there might be classroom congestion and also few challenges in maintaining social distancing among the students.
He said when the final year students are on campus and there wasn’t much problem as the college had already regulated processes to go out to buy essential items. And also faculties in Sherubtse college had volunteered to go around the campus and monitored the students on whether students are following the safety protocols.
Similarly, President of College of Science and Technology (CST) said with regard to CST, in campus they have all the final year students and they were called here because from final year students, the college elects the student leaders and also they were required in the campus to take care of the first year students. So this was planned before lockdown. However, first year student couldn’t be taken in because of the lockdown, similarly graduates who were supposed to leave could only depart on Tuesday.
For the final year students in the campus the college started online classes for them to make them engaged from 18th August. CST is also engaging their students who were locked up in the campus due to the lockdown earlier. When it comes to first year students they were supposed to report on 18th and 19th August. For second year and third year students, CST has started offering online classes for them from 26th August.
“Our desperate attempt for now is to bring in all the first year students inside the campus,” said CST president.
The students were divided into small groups and then they were oriented online. From 1st September the online classes were started for first year students. Currently there are 215 students in the campus including 5th year architecture students. Both 4th and 5th architecture students are inside the campus as of now.
CST has drawn all SOPs and planned all the strategies and say there are prepared and its first priority is to bring in first year students and third year students.
First year students in Royal Thimphu College (RTC) reported on the 4th August and went through a detailed 5 days orientation before the lockdown. During that orientation programme they were taken through the process of online teaching-learning as well as introductions to their courses. They are fully engaged in online classes now. RTC is paying special attention to them and constantly checking their progress and asking about any challenges they might be facing.
RTC has nearly 600 students on campus. They are living in the hostels and attending their online classes regularly. As far as opening of the college for face to face classes, the College is waiting for the Government directives
Dean of Gedu College Jamyang Tenzin said that they are planning to call all the students in a phase wise manner and first year students will be called first because these group of students are new and they are not aware of the online classes and other means of tools. And in the second phase, 2nd year students and 3rd year students will be called.
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