The usual, pre-pandemic buzz was missing as universities and degree colleges across Uttar Pradesh reopened on Monday after eight months of closure because of the Covid-19 outbreak. Attendance remained thin on the first day as students and parents remained concerned about safety due to a surge in coronavirus infection cases.

At several degree colleges, a number of students were sent home as they did not bring the mandatory consent letter from their parents. Shimali Fatima, an M Com first-year student at National PG College in Lucknow, was excited to attend classes physically.

“I am happy to be here. But the situation is scary as the coronavirus continues to be here. We have to be very careful till such time the vaccine arrives,” she said.

A number of students at this college were denied entry as they did not bring a consent letter.

Rakesh Jain, a senior faculty member of the college, said, “Hardly 25 students turned up with their parents’ consent letter. We had one or two students in each classroom. The Covid-19 situation is still very much there. We will continue with online classes as a majority of our students prefer it. Physical classes will also run simultaneously.”

Physical classes started only for postgraduate students at National PG College. The undergraduate students will be called from the next month depending on the situation, said Jain, who is also the coordinator of the admission committee.

Thermal screening was done at the Isabella Thoburn (IT) College entry point, after which the students were asked to sanitise their hands. Teachers and students were seen wearing masks and asked to maintain social distancing, said Anjali Mishra, a student.

Principal Vineeta Prakash said attendance was very thin on day one.

“Roughly 10% girls came to the college. We believe the number will go up with the passage of time. Classes will run both online and offline so that students do not miss out on lectures,” she said.

At Avadh Girls’ Degree College, approximately 120 girls attended classes held in small groups. “We have done sanitisation of our college premises thoroughly to ensure the safety of the students,” said principal Upma Chaturvedi.

Avadh Girls’ PG College decided to hold the first-year classes on Mondays, second year on Tuesdays and final year on Wednesdays. The same cycle would be repeated in the following days, Chaturvedi said.

Teaching, however, will remain suspended at Lucknow University (LU) till November 25 because of the ongoing centenary celebrations as teachers were all engaged with other responsibilities, said LU spokesman Durgesh Srivastava.

Last week, the state government notified the guidelines for reopening of the universities and colleges, which have been closed since March in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The higher educational institutions were asked to resume classes in a phased manner to avoid crowding on campuses, said additional chief secretary, higher education, Monika Garg in her order sent to all district magistrates and registrars of universities.

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