Odishatv Bureau

New Delhi: The HRD ministry on Saturday advised all educational institutions to let students who are still in hostels to stay put and take necessary precautions in view of the coronavirus outbreak.

"Students who are still in hostels, particularly foreign students, should be allowed to continue in their hostels and advised to take all necessary safety precaution," HRD Secretary Amit Khare said in a letter to the institutions.

The universities and colleges have been issuing advisories to students to leave for homes and not stay in hostels as classes have already been suspended in wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Last week, the HRD Ministry had directed that all exams in schools and colleges be postponed till March 31 and evaluation work be suspended.

The letter which has been sent to the University Grants Commission (UGC), All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) and other autonomous bodies under the ministry, also said that faculty members, researchers, and non-teaching staff be permitted to work from home.

Read: Health Ministry Revises Strategy For Testing Coronavirus

"The faculty members should utilise this period for academic activities such as the development of online content, online teaching, and online evaluation. Preparing lesson plans and developing instructional material for the courses to be offered during next year or semester, writing articles and papers and preparing question banks, are among the activities which can be pursued during the period," Khare said.

While the teaching and non-teaching staff is required to be available on phone and email, the institutions have been directed to count the period as being on duty.

The HRD Ministry has also asked students to continue their learning by making full use of the available digital e-Learning platforms during the period the educational institutions are closed as a precautionary measure against COVID-19.

Government Issues Guidelines On Social Distancing Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Asserting the measures taken by states and union territories are not uniform, the Central government on Saturday issued a slew of guidelines on social distancing in the wake of coronavirus outbreak.

An expert group constituted under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, through Health Secretary Preeti Sudan, asked the state and union territories to regulate work in government offices to reduce congestion and maintain hygiene.

The guidelines came after the number of coronavirus infected cases climbed up to 285 and claimed four lives.

Among other measures, they have also been directed to regulate working hours except in essential services. "Private sector to consider work from home, wherever feasible," the guidelines stated.

Frequency of metros, railways, buses, and airplanes should be decreased.

"Alternate seating to ensure social distancing; disinfection and crowd control in places like railway stations, metro stations, bus stands, airports, etc," it further stated, adding that social distancing should be maintained even in small gatherings.

As per the guidelines, the educational institutions, theatres, museums, gyms and examination centres should remain closed.

"Sporting events, competitions and religious gatherings to be postponed and maintain required social distancing even in smaller gatherings."

Barring public representatives, government servants and medical professionals, all senior citizens have been directed to remain indoors and avoid gatherings, except for medical reasons and the need for essential services.

The guidelines added, "All children below ten years of age to remain at home and avoid going to public parks, picnics and other games requiring a large number of participants."

All health establishments should avoid non-urgent hospitalisation and minimise elective surgeries, the guidelines stated.

In the wake of black marketing, the government also tightened the screw on the regulation of prices of masks, sanitizer, and medicines and ensure their availability.

"Sensitise on the appropriate use of masks and good hygienic practices including washing hands with soap," the government directed.

The state and union territories have been asked to motivate citizens, particularly the youth, to volunteer to support the ongoing efforts in the management of COVID-l9.

The government also gave the state and union territories a free hand to invoke relevant provisions of the law in the larger public interest.

Novel coronavirus cases in India rose to 283 on Saturday after 60 fresh cases were reported in various parts of the country, the Union Health Ministry said.

The total includes 39 foreign nationals, including 17 from Italy, three from the Philippines, two from the UK, one each from Canada, Indonesia, and Singapore.

It also includes four deaths reported from Delhi, Karnataka, Punjab, and Maharashtra.

(With Agency Inputs)

Also Read: Coronavirus: PM Modi Calls For Daylong ‘Janata Curfew’ On March 22

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