With the onset of COVID-19 vaccination in the country, things were supposed to get better over time. But the recent trend of increase in Coronavirus infection, especially in the states of Maharashtra, Delhi, Kerala etc., has proven otherwise. This time last year, the school and colleges started to shut down to prevent the students from contracting the disease and with the way the situation is progressing, it does not seem like the government is going to allow the colleges to reopen in Delhi or in many other states anytime soon.
Students’ Stance On The Matter
Recently, protests were held by ABVP demanding that the Delhi University starts offline classes for the students. Similar protests for re-opening campuses have been organised at another universities of Delhi as well including Jamia Millia Islamia, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD).
However, these protests were not held to open up the colleges in full swing with all the students.The students want the college to extend its facilities for those who are not able to access the online resources or those who need a more direct interaction with the teacher in order to understand the lessons better.
“We are not demanding that all students be allowed on campus. Those who need physical classes should be allowed and facilities like library and hostel be made available to them. Online classes can also continue side by side. Many students can’t access online resources or there are those who need more clarity and in-depth study which can only happen face-to-face. For them, the re-opening is necessary,” said Sidharth Yadav, State Secretary of ABVP as reported by The Indian Express.
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What Have the Colleges Decided?
The universities and colleges, however, have their own reasons to not open the colleges and start offline classes. Putting the safety of the students the top-most priority, the administration of these educational institutions have decided to not start physical classes yet for everyone.
“The problem is that class size in all colleges is quite big and suddenly we cannot tell them to divide those students into three or four sections and call them. That’s why we decided to first call students who require lab work. Idea was to test this for 2-3 weeks and then call all final year students,” said DU Dean of Students’ Welfare Rajeev Gupta.
Similarly, Jamia PRO Ahmad Azeem has also said that a large number of students and parents have already written to the university administration that the present online teaching should continue till the environment is not safe for offline classes to begin.
UGC Rules On Colleges Reopening
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has set some rules on for whom to reopen the colleges ad how. According to its guidelines, the universities and colleges can call back research scholars, post-graduate students in science and technology programmes and final-year undergraduate students for placement purposes. However, it has set a limit to the number of students attending classes on campus at a given time to not be more than half the total student strength.
The remaining students are to continue online classes as usual but they may visit their departments in smaller groups, with prior appointment, to consult faculty members, stated the guidelines by UGC.
Given the state of COVID infections on the rise, the chances of reopening of colleges for regular classes seems remote at the moment. While this may come off as something that will put a lot of students through more difficulties in their academics, but there does not seem to be any other way to start conducting physical classes safely as of now.