The first day of this academic year was one of a kind, with the freshers unable to interact with their seniors. Many colleges reported 60% attendance on Monday.
The government had issued an order last week permitting colleges to reopen to all students, following standard operating procedures.
Some colleges decided to keep first-year students out of the campus and others staggered the classes for senior-year students. “We will have to wait and watch as we are not confident enough to ask all the students to come. Since the Directorate of College Education has not provided any guideline, each principal takes a call as per the college’s strength and infrastructure,” said a faculty member at Loganatha Narayanasamy Government College, Ponneri.
The college, which has a student strength of 5,000, including 1,500 in the first year, saw around 60% attendance. “That is the situation in most colleges. Students from the local areas came but those who had to commute long distances using public transport had difficulty,” said a professor. First- and second-year undergraduate students were asked to come while online classes were offered for final-year students, he added.
The Chennai Institute of Technology, affiliated to Anna University, continued to offer online classes to first-year students.
The university’s schedule had to be adhered to, pointed out principal A. Ramesh. “Even if we ask the students to come, it may be for just a week. We plan to open on February 22 for the first-year students. As per schedule for the first semester, the last working day is February 15, and from February 26, they will have practical exams. From March 4, they must undergo theory exams, all of which will be conducted online. Even model exams will be conducted online. So we decided to permit students to complete their course work before coming to college,” he said.
Lalitha Balakrishnan, principal of MOP Vaishnav College, said that though in the beginning of the academic year, many final-year students wanted to spend some time in the college, the mood had since changed. “I thought they will all come, but I think either they’ve got used to the new normal or still the fear has not gone. We are conducting online classes,” she said.
For students, the lack of interaction was a disappointment. R. Varshini, a final-year undergraduate student of SDNB Vaishnav College, said her institution had called only the first-year students. She had not met any of the freshers yet, she said.