Barely six days after the degree and engineering colleges were reopened in the state, Karnataka Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar on Sunday said they may be shut again if the coronavirus cases go up. The degree, engineering and diploma colleges were reopened on November 17 after eight months of closure due to coronavirus-induced lockdown.
Under the circumstances, reports emerged that at least 130 students got infected by COVID-19. "If the cases go up, then, as you have said in your (media) reports, we will have to go for a shutdown once again. There is no alternative," Sudhakar told reporters in Dharwad while responding to queries about the rising coronavirus cases among students.
The Minister's statement came ahead of Karnataka government's crucial meeting on Monday to decide reopening of schools. Sudhakar conceded that the schools have not been reopened yet in the state for the fear of coronavirus.
Stating that about 120 to 130 students were infected with the coronavirus as per media reports, Dr Sudhakar said he would gather information from senior officials. Explaining the reason behind reopening the colleges, he said youth have immunity.
"I won't say that the students won't contract the disease. Youth have more immunity. We have to protect the lives of the students as well as shape their academic future. Since we have a big responsibility, we decided to reopen schools and colleges in a phased manner," Dr Sudhakar said.
According to officials in the higher education department, the decision to reopen colleges were taken as students were not able to grasp the lessons online due to various reasons such as lack of gadgets, poor connectivity and health issues such as eye-sight. Besides, the faculties and the college staff were staring at unemployment.