It’s finally time to believe the good news that Delhi University students had been eagerly waiting for! DU colleges have conducted mock drills to make students comfortable, and get into the groove of reopening the campus — on February 1 — albeit in a regulated and phased manner.
As part of phase one of reopening, only final year students with lab work have been allowed to enter the college premises. “During the recently conducted mock drill at my college, it was so reassuring to see the arrangements that were made,” says Ashu Chaurasia, a final year student of Hindi (Hons) at PGDAV (Evening) College. She recently visited the college and library, and shares her first-hand experience: “There was thermal checking before we entered the college, and sanitisers were placed everywhere in the college premises. Social distancing was maintained among the students, at least till the time I saw. But the best feel was to be back in the college and see a few of our teachers in front of us and not virtually! My friends and I exchanged pleasantries, while maintaining distance, with even the guard bhaiya, librarian and other familiar faces on college campus. The good part is that every student present was masked up, and that made me confident about going back to attending college in offline mode!”
Students of other colleges, which are yet to announce the dates of their reopening or even mock drill, are battling #FOMO as they hear from their friends about mock drills and become further restless to return to the campus. “It’ll be very exciting to work in the lab after a whole year, and that’s why I’m looking forward to my college’s mock drill,” says Akshay Panwar, a final year student of Chemistry (Hons) at Atma Ram Sanatan Dharma College, adding, “Online classes are good in Covid times, but they can’t replace physical classes. It’ll be so good if I get to visit the lab once again, and will surely help us in academics. And finally we’ll get a chance to enjoy college life once again, for whatever time is left for us before we say our goodbyes to college. And there is no fear to be back on campus, but we should remember that corona has not gone completely so everything needs to be done under Covid-19 guidelines.”
Carefully measuring the pros and cons of switching from online campus life to offline campus life, Pooja Santosh, a final year Chemistry (Hons) student at Hindu College, says, “I’m quite excited that labs will be reopening after almost a whole year! But there are a lot of safety issues with the same. I’m from Kerala, and it’s not going to be easy for me to reach Delhi and arrange an accommodation to stay for only a few months that are left for my graduation to complete. Moreover, due to pandemic, most hostels aren’t reopening. So I haven’t been able to decide yet how to choose an offline mode to attend college yet. And the truth is that campus is never going to be the same again. That is the saddest fact for final years students like me!”
There’s also a worry that once all colleges reopen, Covid guidelines might not be adhered completely. A few PhD students at DU, who have been using labs for last couple of months, say following protocols is the responsibility of students. “PhD students have been going to the lab even before December, and all this while we have been following all the protocols including attending the lab in batches in order to maintain social distancing. Moreover, we always have our face masks on, and there are never more than three people in one lab at any given point. All students use sanitisers and take all necessary precautions as prescribed by the university. If we’ve had a successful run so far, everything will be smooth henceforth as well provided each one behaves responsibly,” says Hitesh Sehrawat, a PhD student of Department of Chemistry, DU.