The second wave of the Covid pandemic in India has waned, but the pandemic situation in Kerala is grim, as the state contributes more than 60 percent of the national caseload. Amid the looming pandemic scare, the government recently announced that regular classes for final year students in Kerala will begin on October 04. The state government is also ensuring that all the college students, teachers, and other staff should receive at least one shot of the Covid vaccine to enter campuses.
LLB students in trouble
As colleges are all set to reopen after months of closure, LLB students will be that one section which will be facing deep troubles. In Kerala there are only four government law colleges; GLC Kozhikode, GLC Thrissur, GLC Thiruvananthapuram, and GLC Ernakulam. Due to the limited number of govt seats, students from different parts of the state had enrolled in these colleges which are hundreds of kilometers away from their homes.
Considering the example of the Government Law College, Thrissur, in the final year batches, there are over 60 students who are out of town, and they should travel 30 to 40 kilometers in public transport to reach the campus. There are even students from Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode, and Malappuram in GLC Thrissur, and these students are availing private hostel facilities to get their course completed.
It should be also noted that there is no government-sponsored hostel in government law college Thrissur, and this single factor makes things difficult for students who are coming from long distances.
"I am in Thiruvananthapuram now. Colleges are going to reopen amid the pandemic scare on October 04. I will be staying in a private hostel to attend the classes. If I get infected with Covid, who will take care of me. How can I travel to my native place which is 280 kilometers away if I get contracted with the pandemic? There are several questions that remain unanswered," said a student who wished to stay anonymous.
Dilemma surrounding space
Most of the government college campuses in Kerala are very small when compared to other Arts colleges and technical colleges. Moreover, one batch of three-year LLB consists of 100 students. Even though the government has requested the college authorities to conduct classes on batches, it is still unclear how this will be materialized, especially considering the limitation of resources and space.
Unlike engineering and medical courses, practical papers of LLB can be completed in online mode too, as it falls under the arts stream. Students in the fourth and fifth semesters of three year LLB have already successfully completed several practical papers online.
In a recent circular, the government has asserted that attendance will not be compulsory for students who have morbid conditions. However, the government failed to notice that there could be family members who may be suffering from serious conditions, and if a student becomes a carrier of the Covid pandemic and infects this family member, things could turn grim. It should be also noted that attendance has a crucial role to play in determining the internal marks of college students, and as a result, students may likely visit the campus to get more marks by hiding possible symptoms of infection.
In law colleges, there are no age restrictions, and if colleges get reopened, several senior citizens who are currently pursuing LLB will be compelled to attend the classes.
The government should also address one serious concern from students and their parents. If one student in a class tests positive for Covid after college reopening, what will happen to the entire class and the attended teachers. Will the classes continue as usual, or will the academics again gets switched to online mode as students should go for quarantine.
Is one dose of vaccine enough?
At this juncture, the government could take a close look at a recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The study report suggests that the Covid pandemic could spread even in groups where most people are vaccinated.
The study was carried out among Texas prison inmates, and it revealed that the pandemic could spread across vaccinated people, but it may not result in serious complications. According to this report, a Covid outbreak happened at a federal prison in July and August, and it infected 172 inmates. Even though most of the inmates were inoculated with two shots of the Covid vaccine, a majority were infected with the pandemic.
As colleges are reopening in Kerala, the government has mandated only one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. It is still unclear whether the first dose of the vaccine is capable to create that immune system to protect a human body from the pandemic. Moreover, several medical experts have recently confirmed that the Delta variant of the virus could evade the immunity offered by the vaccine, and if another wave of the pandemic happens, it could give a golden chance for the virus to evolve into another deadly strain.