Committed to upholding the Standard Operating Procedures and guidelines shared by the Higher Education Commission (HEC), the universities across Pakistan are set to start a phase-wise reopening procedure, resuming their operations as per the Government’s instructions on September 15.
This was stated by Chairman HEC, Tariq Banuri while addressing the 32nd Vice Chancellors (VCs) Committee meeting. More than 150 VCs, Rectors, or Presidents of universities participated in the meeting to discuss in detail the reopening plans and procedures.
Addressing the university heads, Tariq Banuri said the HEC as well as the government have full confidence in the VCs, that they will be able to adopt all measures needed for protection of the campus community without compromising the quality and delivery of education. He said COVID-19 has rendered almost all the academic operations harder, so it required the dedicated personal leadership of the Vice Chancellors to inspire both faculty and students, and 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 emphasised.
The Chairman HEC affirmed that the universities will follow the HEC’s guidelines – available at HEC website – to contain the spread of COVID-19 and will firmly implement their respective reopening policies. These guidelines include the permission to open universities on September 15, measures to screen out potentially infected individuals, and the minimum SOPs to be followed on campus. These measures are to wear face masks in public places, maintain social distance, and undertake 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 measures to ensure proper social distancing and manage population density. He strongly rebutted the news circulating in a section of press that HEC has directed all universities to adopt a ‘single 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”.