Allow empty hostels to be used as quarantine facility, authorities to varsities


New Delhi: With classes and exams suspended, and most of the hostels empty, state authorities have requested educational institutions to allow their hostels to be used as quarantine facilities to aid the fight against the fast-spreading coronavirus.

The prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay is the first one to accede to such a request, and four of its hostels and guest houses have already been turned into quarantine facilities.

“By an executive order, the collector has taken over several buildings on the campus as a designated quarantine for all flyers (C-category: that is, those without symptoms) coming into the city from various international destinations. The designated buildings are Vanvihar Guest house, H-18, the well maintained part of H-8 (B-wing), and the MTNL guest rooms,” IIT Bombay said in an official communication.

However, a similar request by authorities in Delhi was turned down by IIT Delhi, which said while students from different parts of country have gone back home, the international students are in hostels only.

A quarantine facility has also been set up in Telangana’s Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANNU) despite opposition from students and faculty members of the university. They opposed the move saying it will put students on campus at risk and claimed that the university will have to be shut down for a longer period if quarantine facility is set up.

Gautam Buddha University in UP’s Greater Noida has opened quarantine facilities for suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19 which can accommodate 150 people.

“Dr BR Ambedkar Scheduled Caste Scheduled Tribe Hostel-5 and Munshi Premchand Hostel will be used to quarantine infected people,” an official of the university said. Similar facility is being set up at Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University (BAMU) in Aurangabad.

“The district administration has contacted us for using the university hostels as quarantine and isolation facilities in view of coronavirus, and we have given a go ahead for the same,” university spokesperson Sanja Shinde said. Classes and exams across the educational institutions in the country are suspended till March 31 in view of the coronavirus outbreak.

The HRD Ministry on Monday directed Navodaya schools in the country to make their unoccupied hostels available to local authorities to be used as any kind of medical facility.

“Assessing the current situation, I have advised Commissioner Navodaya Vidyalaya to make their hostels (where no students are staying) available for the respective district administrations, aiding them to fight COVID-19,” Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ said.

Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNVs) had last week announced advancing the summer break in view of the coronavirus outbreak.

The schools are now closed from to March 21-May 21. JNVs are fully residential and co-educational schools in every districts affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and operated by the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS), an autonomous body under the HRD Ministry. According to the Union health ministry, nearly 500 coronavirus cases have been reported in India so far.