A standard operating procedure (SOP) released by the Dean Of Students’ Welfare on 14th January 2021, citing UGC Guidelines instructs colleges to reopen for practical and lab work, while theory classes are to remain online.
Most Universities across India had shifted to the online mode for the last semester. Many like Delhi University (DU) continued their next semester online as well. But now the University of Delhi is said to reopen for offline classes for final year students who have to do practicals and lab work, in February. However, The University shall continue theory classes in the online mode.
Many students across the University, especially students with science subjects had been facing problems as they were unable to complete their practicals and access lab facilities due to the lockdown. In light of this, Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) on 2nd Jan 2021, had issued a memorandum to the DSW office demanding the Reopening of science laboratories and campus in a phased manner, amongst other demands.
The UGC Guidelines dated 5th November 2020 stated that universities may plan to reopen their campuses in a phased manner while adhering to social distancing. The guidelines went on to suggest that some students could be called to campus especially for those who were pursuing their research programmes and post-graduate degrees in Science and Technology. It also stated that for other students – online classes should be the preferred mode of learning. During the reopening of colleges in a phased manner, The Guidelines stated that all extracurricular activities that do not allow for physical distancing should be avoided. The Colleges and Universities that opt for reopening must also ensure the norms of physical distancing and sanitization for use of common facilities such as Seminar Halls, Canteens, and Auditoriums.
Keeping this in mind, the Office of the Dean Students’ Welfare, University of Delhi organized two back-to-back sessions with the Principals of the Colleges and the Heads of the Departments on January 5 and 6 2021, respectively. The meeting reiterated that “the basic point that any plan of transition to offline mode must take into account the local conditions and peculiarities of an institution (College/Department/Center), in allowing it to deal with any eventuality arising due to the COVID-19.”
The Statement of Purpose released by the Dean Of Students’ Welfare mentions the following steps that colleges must follow if they are to reopen.
The statement said that the theory classes shall remain in the online mode. Laboratory, Practical, and Library should resume activity from 1st February and continue till 31st March. The entry into these spaces shall take place in small numbers. The physical entry of the students should be completely voluntary, and attendance in no way compulsory. The statement also advised the formation of a COVID-19 Task Group which would ensure the supervision and implementation of the UGC Guidelines. It reiterated that the final decision of reopening shall rest with the College/Department/Centre.
Reopening the University in a phased manner would require the implementation of safety measures in colleges. With a new strain of the virus right around the corner, this process may be tricky.
Feature Image Credits: Telegraph