Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 17 (PTI) With COVID-19 restrictions being eased in Kerala, colleges in the state will reopen on October 4 after a gap of over a year, adhering to health protocols.

Higher Education Department Joint Secretary Sajukumar, in an order, said classes for the final semesters of degree and post-graduate courses will be started, strictly adhering to COVID-19 health protocols.

"All institutions under the Higher Education department shall start functioning from October 4," it said.

The final year PG courses will be held with full attendance while it would be 50 per cent for final year degree courses, it said, adding that the timings can be decided by the college councils as per the space available in the institutions. Importance should be given to practical classes for the science subjects, the order said, adding that the classes for other semesters will continue online.

"The classrooms, libraries and laboratories should be sanitized well before the commencement of classes and the institutions can seek assistance from the local self government bodies concerned, health workers or NGOs," the order said.

The state government asked the respective institutional heads to ensure that the students follow strict COVID-19 health protocol.

"The institutions should ensure availability of adequate number of masks, sanitisers and hand wash facilities. Gatherings should be avoided," the order said.

It also directed the institutions to approach the health department to arrange vaccination drives for students and staff. On September 7, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had announced that all higher educational institutions, including technical, polytechnic and medical, would be allowed to function from October 4 for final year students. He, however, had said that reopening of the institutions would be subject to the condition that all final year students, faculty and staff receive at least the first dose of the vaccination. As part of easing restrictions, the government had that day decided do away with night curfew and 'stringent intensified' restrictions on Sundays. The Chief Minister had said that the decision was taken as the Total Positivity Rate in the state, which was around 18.49 per cent in the last week of August, fell to 17.91 in the first week of September.