Update on March 22, 2020 | 8:00 AM
My Dear Students,
I hope you all are doing well, physically and mentally, during these uncertain times. I also hope that all our outstation students have reached their respective homes safely and are with their families.
I am reaching out to provide an update on the college’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
But first of all, let us respond to the nation’s call for a “Janta Curfew” this Sunday. I request the Xavier’s community to stay inside and stay self-quarantined on 22nd March. It is necessary to follow these precautionary measures given by our government with honesty and integrity not just for our own safety, but also as a social responsibility towards our larger community. The nature of this virus is such that some individuals, including many of you reading this, may carry the virus but may not exhibit symptoms, and thus pass it to vulnerable populations. As a result, your best course of action is to avoid large gatherings and practice social distancing as much as possible. Most importantly, I urge you to stay calm and composed in this situation.
Let me now update you on the various government regulations that the college is complying with.
St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, though an autonomous institute, is a grant-in-aid institute and hence is governed by the rules and regulations of the Government of Maharashtra (GoM), University of Mumbai (UoM), and School Education Department for Junior College. Autonomy is mostly limited to academic matters such as the syllabi. We have been receiving various circulars from these bodies giving directives on the current public health crisis, which are as follows:
- A circular from the Government of Maharashtra allows us to postpone exams for all senior college students till 31st March and allows all professors to work from home until 25th March.
- A circular from the School Education Department for Junior College allows us to postpone class XI exams beyond 15th April and allows junior college teachers to work from home until 31st March.
- We have a circular which requires us to call 25% of all non-teaching staff on duty on a rotation basis. Principal and security, however, are required to be on campus on all the days.
- Mumbai Municipal Corporation has come out with a diktat to close all educational institutions, and this is being enforced by the police. However, the GoM and UoM circular requires us to keep 25% workforce on campus. Thus, the college is trying our best to comply with two seemingly contradictory orders.
Addressing Your Concerns
I have been receiving messages and emails from our students regarding different concerns. All students seem to be worrying about the exams starting after 31st March 2020, especially the outstation students who are worried about being able to reach Mumbai on time. Given that the situation is going from bad to worse, it is difficult to say right now when the exams will be rescheduled for. No matter the decision, I would like to assure you all that we will be displaying the timetable well in advance to give you at least a week to make your travel arrangements. Keeping this in mind, whenever they start, you will have sufficient time to plan your travel. I know that this uncertainty is worrisome, but the only thing we can do is stay calm and cool. Our first priority is for you to take care of yourself and your family. Stay inside and follow all the instructions given by the health department and the government.
This time spent indoors can be a great opportunity to learn anything you are interested in. With respect to the college exams, I understand that some outstation students may have left their belongings and books in Mumbai. I would urge you to form a community and share notes and other resources online. Syllabi for all the courses are available on the college website as a reference. In case you want to go above and beyond your curriculum, websites such as JSTOR and Google Scholar have made most of their resources accessible and free.
I know that studying for college exams is certainly not the only thing you could be spending your time on. You may also use this time to pursue some free online courses on topics such as AI, Machine Learning, or learn new languages. Coursera, Duolingo, Khan Academy, MIT Opencourseware, Udemy, Udacity edX, NPTEL, and other MOOCs are some available resources.
You can also help your parents, learn some cooking, clean your house, spend some quality time with your family, etc. It is also a great opportunity to pursue your hobbies, or cultivate new ones.
I strongly feel that the Government of Maharashtra and all other concerned authorities will issue a notification to all the students, and the teaching and non-teaching staff to work from home until 31st March, which will then be reviewed as necessary. We need to wait patiently for future orders.
As a relatively young demographic, you are at a high risk of spreading this infection even if you don’t show symptoms yourself. Thus, it is crucial that you adopt social distancing during this time and stay updated with verified information and global best practices such as those prescribed on the WHO website.
Even though we have lost the ability to share a common physical space, we still have a wonderful community of Xavierites that we can lean on. We are eagerly waiting for the Quad, the Foyer, and the Woods to be bustling with all your voices, and can’t wait to welcome you back. Until then, let us all take this Corona Monster head on and win the war against it.
All the best and stay safe.
Rajendra D. Shinde, Principal