A DU student is fighting two battles: Covid and the stress of online exams
A 21-year-old student of BA (Hons) in English at Delhi University’s SGTB Khalsa College is fighting two battles at the same time—the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) and stress of the upcoming online open-book exams.
Despite opposition from both teachers and students, the University is set to conduct open-book exams online for final-year students from Friday.
While hundreds of students said they might boycott the online open-book exams after facing several technical issues during the mock tests, Gaurisha Kapila, who tested positive for Covid-19 on July 1, said that she does not want to miss future opportunities by skipping exams.
The resident of west Delhi’s Uttam Nagar area is in home isolation. “I do not have a choice but to appear in the exams. The University is saying it will conduct another round of exams whenever the situation improves. But I cannot wait for my degree for an unknown period. There is so much uncertainty. If I wait, my graduation will be stuck and I will not be able to do anything else,” she said.
Even as the Delhi University has said that it will provide students who could not appear in online exams with another opportunity, the University has not made specific announcements for Covid-19 positive students like Kapila. “I had contacted my college teachers and written to the college authorities about my situation. The college had forwarded my letter to the university administration. But there has been no response yet,” she said.
Kapila said that she was already stressed about the online exams before she tested positive for Covid-19 on July 1. “I visited my aunt’s house in the last week of June. I wanted some change since I was anxious about the online exams. My aunt and her family live in the same neighbourhood. A few days later, my aunt and cousin both tested positive. I also developed symptoms, following which my parents got me tested from a private lab. My result arrived on July 1,” she said.
Her father, who has diabetes, and seven-year-old brother shifted to her grandparents’ house in Faridabad immediately. Kapila, who is now living with her mother, said that a team from the District Surveillance Office (DS0) visited them the day she tested positive. “They put up a home isolation poster outside our house and gave us some medicines and an oximeter to monitor my oxygen level. Although I am feeling well physically, I’m very stressed out. I keep wondering what would happen if it also infects my mother. There is a table outside my room where she keeps my food and other stuff to avoid contact with me. I wash my dishes and clothes, and clean my room several times a day. How do I study amid all this and write exams?” she said.
Kapila, who wants to pursue a masters degree in theatre from the National School of Drama, could not even appear in any mock online test the University conducted to familiarise students with the new format.
Her mother Sonia Kapila said that the family is stressed about their daughter’s health. “How can the University put students under so much stress amid the pandemic? My daughter is fighting the virus, and she is so worried about her exams at the same time. I do not know how she will write the exams from Friday,” she said.
Saikat Ghosh, an assistant professor at Kapila’s College, said that she contacted him when she tested positive for Covid-19. “She had also written to the college administration. The college administration had forwarded her letter to the University. We are yet to hear anything from them,” he said.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) on Monday advised against the cancellation of final-year exams in colleges. The UGC recommended the colleges hold exams in any medium—online, offline, or mixed—by September 30.
Despite several attempts, DU’s Dean of Examination Vinay Gupta and Dean of Students Rajeev Gupta did not respond to calls and text for comment. A senior University official, requesting anonymity, said, “The University will surely give another opportunity to students who will not be able to take exams now. In cases like these, the student should give priority to his or her health.”