Maharashtra Higher Education Minister Uday Samant on Wednesday announced that colleges in the state can resume classes with 50% capacity from February 15, reported PTI.

Samant said that hostels may not open as some of them were being used as quarantine centres. He also said that the rule for 75% minimum attendance will be waived.

The minister said that universities can start with practical lessons in the beginning and gradually move to physical lectures, adding that colleges would need to consult students too while deciding on this. He said that universities can conduct online or offline examinations based on the coronavirus situation in the area.

The minister also said that the universities have been asked not to force students to pay full fees.

A committee is looking into fee-related grievances of students, Samant said. “If a college is found violating government norms, it will face legal action,” he said.

Students and staff members will need to adhere to coronavirus guidelines such as wearing face masks and maintaining physical distancing inside the campuses, reported NDTV. Universities and colleges will have to provide sanitisers.

Physical classes in colleges had stopped after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in March last year. Since then, universities and colleges in the state have been conducting online classes.

Earlier, the Maharashtra government had announced the reopening of schools for Classes 5 to 8 based on the coronavirus situation in respective regions. The government is yet to take a call on reopening the schools for Classes 1 to 4.

The state has so far reported 20,30,274 Covid-19 cases, according to the Union health ministry data. The toll stood at 51,139. There are 42,830 active cases and 19,36,305 people have recovered from the infection in the state.

On the other hand, West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee colleges and universities in the state will not reopen immediately.

“The VCs [vice chancellors] said since a month’s time is left [for completion of exams] for odd-semesters [such as 1, 3, 5, 7] let us continue with the online mode,” Chatterjee said. “The government agreed to their proposal.”

The minister also said that the vice chancellors expressed their inability to reopen hostels in view of the pandemic.