Delhi University prepares for phased reopening for final-year UG and PG students
Delhi University colleges and departments are set to welcome final-year undergraduate and postgraduate students back to campus from Wednesday for practical and laboratory work as part of a phased reopening plan announced last week.
While not all DU colleges will resume in-person classes right away, many principals are expecting students to come to access library reading rooms and meet teachers.
Several students said they are looking forward to returning to college. Aarushi Sharma, a third-year undergraduate student studying computer science in Miranda House, said she would visit the college library on Wednesday ahead of her “lab-turn” on Friday. Several colleges, including Miranda House, have created a schedule for access to laboratories to ensure physical distancing and only 50% of seating capacity at all times.
“I haven’t visited my college since February after the second wave halted all offline activities. Half of my graduation has been spent in online mode so I am really looking forward to going to campus, accessing the laboratory, meeting my teachers and friends. Not all of my classmates are back from their hometowns. Since we are just allowed to visit for practical classes, it won’t be feasible for them to come and rent accommodation only for lab work,” said Sharma.
Departmental and college libraries have been allowed to reopen from September 6. While all teaching and non-teaching staff have been asked to be vaccinated at the earliest, DU has made it mandatory for all students visiting campus to be at least partially vaccinated.
“Laboratory or practical classes and similar activities for final-year UG/PG students may be allowed in the offline mode from September 15 with a maximum 50% of the working capacity of classroom/laboratory/hall room following the principle of rotation. Only a limited number of experiments/exercises/practicals may be selected that are considered essential or important in the semester,” the university order released last week stated.
Manoj Sinha, principal of Aryabhatta College and general secretary of DU Principals’ Association, said that they are taking it slow for now. The college has two science courses and three lab-based courses.
“A very small group is coming to college on Wednesday. For now, departments are calling 10 students per batch and these students are at least partially vaccinated. These students will act as peer mentors in the coming days and train other students, engage in confidence-building measures and create awareness on Covid-appropriate behaviour,” Sinha said, adding that library access to limited students is available every day and issuance of laptops is already ongoing.
However, not all colleges are expecting many students on Wednesday. Simrit Kaur, principal of Shri Ram College of Commerce, said, “We have informed students that our library reading rooms would be open and issuing books has also been allowed. Students can come for these activities. Since we have lab work for only one paper, we have asked students to inform us if they want to attend online or offline classes. Accordingly, the lab classes can be arranged on Sunday so that it doesn’t disrupt our timetable.”
Several departments have also prepared to welcome final-year postgraduate students back on campus. Ashok Prasad, head of the chemistry department in the university, said the department had conducted an online survey to assess how many students want to come for offline practical lessons.
“We asked students for information on their vaccination status and asked about their preferences for practicals. Of around 300 students in the final-year PG course, we have created six groups of 50 students each for practicals. Of 50, 25 are being allowed to come on one day and even among these, around 10 have opted for online practical lessons under which the teachers demonstrate the experiments and share the recorded videos with students. This is because our students have moved out of Delhi and have expressed their inability to come for offline classes as their parents are worried about the third wave,” Prasad said.