Its going to be nearly eighteen months since the Delhi University has suspended all offline teaching activities for its students due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Even though classes and examination were being conducted online, what took the brunt of this lockdown were practical. After all, you can have all the theoretical knowledge regarding any field via online classes but a practical hand cannot fare well in these circumstances. Previously, prior to the second wave, final year students were given access to the laboratories and were allowed to take practical classes in February this year, while theory classes were being conducted online.   

Now, the University of Delhi on August 5 has decided to reopen the classes, practical and project work for undergraduates and postgraduates for the final year students enrolled in science stream; commencing in the physical mode from August 16. 

The official notice states that "Taking note of the decline in the number of COVID-19 cases, it has been decided that classes and practical/project work with respect to PG and UG programs students in science courses in the university and its colleges shall be conducted in physical mode with effect from 16.08.2021 observing necessary protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19,"

"... therefore all teaching and non-teaching staff shall attend the duties at their workplace with immediate effect," it said, adding all colleges, centers, and departments shall be fully functional.

All other academic programs would continue with the online teaching and learning as per usual, according to the official notification.

Delhi University (DU) directed the principals of colleges and provosts of hostels to ensure strict adherence to Covid-19 guidelines while providing accommodation for eligible outstation students in consultation with Dean Students' Welfare and proctor of the university.

“Science students make up only about 25% of all students in the university so I don’t think accommodation will be a problem. They will be accommodated in the college and university hostels to the extent possible, but we cannot guarantee that all students will get it. Accommodation will be available at the PGs as well, where there will be less load than usual. The supply will be far more than the demand,” said registrar Vikas Gupta.

This decision came under heavy criticism from the Delhi University Teachers' Association (DUTA), pointing out that the varsity is overlooking the safety of the students, teachers and karamcharis. With concerns regarding overcrowding in classes and labs make it difficult to pertain to the social distancing norms. Moreover, there are apprehensions about out of Delhi students who require to return and find accommodation within 10 days.

All the while admission for undergraduate and postgraduate courses for the 2021-2022 academic year is still underway, with St. Stephen’s College and Jesus and Mary College affiliated under the University of Delhi has released a separate application form for UG students on August 5.

Amid the impending third wave looming over our heads, merely issuing notices for resuming physical mode of learning is not sufficient, there should be well defined guidelines or charted out schedules so that the social distancing protocols could be followed efficiently, to ensure safe and secure environment for the students and teachers alike.