10 months after Covid outbreak, colleges reopen to poor response in Punjab
Ten months after they were shut due to the Covid-19 pandemic, higher education institutions reopened to a poor response in Punjab on Thursday.
Less than 10% of the students reported for classes at private and government institutes in Bathinda and its adjoining districts on the first day. Heads of the institutions said that the students and faculty members were yet to warm up to offline classes.
Government Rajindra College principal Surjit Singh said of the 4,300 students, less than 10% attended college on Thursday. “The college has been restarted in a phased manner since November but the attendance has remained thin. Students need time to build confidence. The first year exams start from January 25. We hope to see improvement in attendance from February,” he said.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh Punjab Technical University registrar Gurinder Pal Singh said classes would begin from February as exams are underway. The university has announced it will allot hostel rooms to students from places located more than 40 km from the campus.
“There is hardly anyone who has opted for the offline mode of examination and we are proceeding accordingly. We are gearing up to conduct classroom teaching after the exams,” he said.
Gurmeet Singh Dhaliwal, the chairperson of the Baba Farid Group of Institutions, one of the largest colleges in the area with nearly 10,000 students in different streams, said it is difficult to implement the state government’s decision to resume higher institutes fully. Dhaliwal said with the given infrastructure and transport facilities, maintaining social distancing is not easy.
ONLINE AND OFFLINE MODES ADD TO PRESSURE
The state government’s directive is with a rider that students will be allowed to take classes according to their choice and no institute should compel them to attend the classes physically.
“It is not possible to run both offline and online mode for classes or exams with the given strength of teachers and facilities. Teachers have expressed concern over holding offline classes when the pandemic is still not over. We need uniformity,” he said.
Earlier, the state government allowed the phased reopening of universities and colleges from November 16. In the first phase, only departments with hands-on training such as sciences and medicines were allowed to open and only final year students were called for physical classes with 50% attendance.
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