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As the unprecedented chain of events unfold in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have witnessed some selfless acts which reaffirm our faith in the resilient spirit of humanity. In these testing circumstances, when the nation needs support from everyone, people from all over the world are gladly coming forward to provide the needed assistance. Even at a small scale, these acts of conscience prove helpful and inspire confidence in the fight against coronavirus.
Just a month ago, probably none of us might have imagined the current situation of the nation.
The coronavirus pandemic prompted India to declare a 21-day lockdown and has put medical institutions on an all-time high alert.
IIT Bombay, being situated in the worst affected state of the country, faced the necessity to act timely and responsibly. Our institute made sure that prompt efforts were taken in that direction and the administration quickly implemented the suggested preventive measures as per the guidelines of the Epidemiological Committee, Govt. of Maharashtra.
In the last few weeks, the institute has taken necessary measures to keep its students and residents safe, all of which has now culminated in IITB preponing its summer break and resuming the spring semester from 1st June onwards.
Here we have highlighted how, during these trying times, the entire decision making unfolded.
Source for the number of cases : https://www.covid19india.org/
30th January: First confirmed coronavirus case in India
12th March: First advisory by the institute to curb the spread of Coronavirus in the campus | Confirmed nationwide COVID-19 cases: 82
13th March: Institute forms the admin and the student task forces to combat a multitude of possible problems posed by the pandemic | Confirmed nationwide COVID-19 cases: 91
The active members of the STF are Gurpreet Dhillon and Akshay Nair (General Secretaries, Hostel 16 and Hostel 13 respectively), Sushil Kumar (Maintenance Councillor, Hostel 13) , Siddhant Patil (Institute Secretary Hostel Affairs), Nisha Chikkara (Mess Councilor, Hostel 10) and Radhik Rammohan (General Secretary Academic Affairs-PG) working under the guidance of the Dean SA’s office.
14th March: Classes suspended till 29th, hostels need not be vacated | Confirmed nationwide COVID-19 cases – 113
16th March: Institute sends the first rigorous advisory after class suspension to mitigate the spread of coronavirus in the campus | Confirmed nationwide COVID-19 cases – 127
17th March: Director suspends all academic activities including research till 31st | Confirmed nationwide COVID-19 cases – 146
18th March: Students asked to vacate their hostels | Confirmed nationwide COVID-19 cases: 171
19th March: Selected IITB hostels and Guest House along with other institutions like BARC declared quarantine facilities for class C travellers. Strict security imposed on campus. But no one to be quarantined sent to IITB as of1st April | Nationwide COVID-19 confirmed cases: 258
As the students returned, preliminary testing through thermal scanning showed symptoms of fever, but all the students were tested negative at the Kasturba Hospital. For precaution, the institute had kept all the returnees in isolation while providing them with every possible help (food, accommodation and other basic amenities).
19th March: Deputy director declares distance mode of learning for the following 2 weeks | Confirmed nationwide COVID-19 cases – 199
21st March: Moodle made accessible without IITB-VPN | Confirmed nationwide COVID-19 cases – 334
22nd March: PM’s appeal for social distancing and Junta Curfew followed nationwide | Confirmed COVID-19 cases: 403
24th March : India declares a 21-day national-wide lockdown (till 14th April) | Confirmed COVID-19 cases: 571
28th March: IITB prepones summer break to the period 01 April – 31 May. Remaining Spring semester to be completed between 01 June and 14 July | Confirmed COVID-19 cases: 1029
2nd April: Few establishments in IITB to be used as a quarantine facility. 7 people sent to VanVihar guest house, to be quarantined there for up to 14 days | Nationwide confirmed COVID-19 cases: 2100
The Student Task Force (STF) was entrusted with the responsibility to handle the crisis at several levels, ranging from guaranteeing basic amenities to remaining residents, to taking care of students returning from international conferences in the affected nations. After the academics were suspended , the institute administration also catered to the needs of those who could not travel home due to various restrictions.
The institute administration has formed a committee led by the Deputy Director (AIA) which is taking care of the administrative decisions taken by the institute. All decisions regarding academics and other issues concerning the faculty and authorities are taken by this committee. This committee also oversees the functioning of the STF.
The administration made arrangements for the students staying back in the institute in Hostels 10, 12, 13, and 14 after shutting down the other hostels. During the isolation period, the Dean and the Associate Dean of Student Affairs have been paying regular visits to check the supply of essentials, and have also been emotionally supporting the distressed students. Besides that, they came up with a security plan to limit the influx and outflux of people on the campus. The STF is assisting the security office and the Dean in ensuring strict adherence to the preventive measures and social distancing protocol. Initially, a messing facility was set up in Hostels 12, 13, and 14. STF members had taken up the task of serving the students in isolation as the mess workers were unwilling to go in that area. The caterer eventually discontinued its service due to lack of workers, and CHMS workers volunteered for the responsibility of food preparation for students.
A collection drive was organized to procure masks and gloves for healthcare workers. The STF, along with student volunteers Ashwini and Bhavya of the Electrical Engineering department, successfully collected 7600 gloves and 2915 masks, which were donated to B.Y.L. Nair Charitable Hospital. As of now, no student has been quarantined on campus, but the precautionary measures are being strictly followed as per the stipulated health guidelines of the ministry.
Apart from the human lens, the administration has also been thoughtful about the fauna of the campus. The General Secretary Non-Academic Staff Association sent out a mail on 27th March, requesting the campus residents to feed chapatis and leftovers regularly to stray animals (if possible), as most of them survived on the leftovers from hostel messes and canteens which now aren’t functional. Furthermore, the Animal Welfare Committee has been proactive about such issues and has volunteers who daily feed the dogs and cats on campus.
Insight praises such selfless acts of generosity and encourages its readers to support everyone involved in such initiatives in every possible way. We need to show our solidarity with the institute, the nation and the world alike! And above all, don’t forget to take care of yourself by staying indoors, because that is the best way to take care of everyone!