New Delhi: The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) on Thursday sent out a circular to colleges and other higher education regulators affirming that all teachers, researchers, as well as non-teaching staff should be permitted to work from home till July 31, in line with the Centre’s guidelines for Unlock 2. Also Read - Former Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh Goes Into Self-isolation After Wife Tests Positive For COVID-19

The HRD Ministry issued the circular to the University Grants Commission (UGC), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), and National Testing Agency (NTA) that govern central-affiliated colleges across India, along with all other autonomous institutional organisations under the Higher Education Department. Also Read - Indian Health Experts Take Russian COVID-19 Vaccine With Pinch of Salt

The circular stated that online education and distance learning was key in the current situation and it “shall continue to be permitted and shall be encouraged”. All teachers, researchers and staff members will be counted ‘on duty’ while pursuing work from home, it said. Also Read - Coronavirus Update: Pasteurised Breast Milk Inactivates COVID-19 Virus

During this period, the teachers, researchers and other faculty members are advised to “utilise” the time for various academic activities that will keep students engaged.

The Home Ministry had already ordered all educational institutions across the country to remain closed till July 31, in view of the rising number of coronavirus cases.

Meanwhile, the UGC is also expected to release the revised guidelines for the pending final year exams as well as the upcoming academic calendar very soon. The HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ had asked the higher education regulator to revisit the circulars issued and take a decision on intermediate and terminal semester examinations amid the COVID-19 pandemic situation.

Several states, including Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana have already cancelled all upcoming university examinations. The students appearing for these exams will be promoted based on their previous term or year performances.