People all over the world are currently living in a pandemic and trying to cope up with the COVID-19 situation in their own ways. We are currently living in an unprecedented situation and the spread of the virus along with the numerous problems, is brewing such a humanitarian crisis which is truly alarming. In the midst of all this chaos, IIIT-Delhi is making numerous efforts to ensure the safety of its students, faculty and staff and is constantly trying to come up with solutions in compliance with the government’s orders.
Since the last couple of months, cleanliness and hygiene of the campus has been one of the top priorities. The daily periodic cleaning and sanitation of hostel utilities and common areas are maintained by a team of dedicated staff housed in the campus with requisites such as face masks, gloves, frequent hand wash, and providing sanitizers while adhering to social distancing norms. Antimicrobial Sanitization drives are frequently undertaken for common areas and public use hardware areas to ensure disinfection .The team of Operations and Student Affairs comprising of Mr. Anurag , Mr. Umesh, headed by Mr. Sanjay Roy and Dr. Ravi Bhasin monitored all the activities on site overseen by a Facilitation Guidance Committee. All current hostelers are provided single room accommodation so that social distancing norms and cleanliness & hygiene standards can be maintained. A weekly meeting with the current hostellers is also being done along with the chief warden, girls hostel warden and Office of Student Affairs to evaluate any issues or requirements needed. Further, all suggestions are immediately taken care of with the support of the FMS office. Apart from cleanliness & hygiene, Institute counsellors are available 24*7 to assist any requirements related to mental stress or any other issues for the current hostelers.
At present 39 students are residing in the hostel since the lockdown. All required facilities are provided to the students within the campus itself. Institute also recruited residential full time Doctor and Nurse for residents. Another visiting doctor is also available for residents within the campus. They are provided with food by the cafe /mess outlets. Due care was taken for adequate availability of raw materials that were stocked up well in advance to meet any shortages and ensure clean hygienic and freshly cooked food for them by cooks housed within campus to prevent any spread of the virus.
Entry to outsiders/delivery boys/ visitors is restricted. Entry is only allowed in special circumstances after thermal scanning by infrared thermometer, mask and hand sanitizations are mandatory. An entry in the register is maintained for contact tracing.
Induction for the incoming batch is a cherished tradition at IIIT-Delhi and something that the institute prides itself on. This year with the uncertainty revolving around the new batch of students, certain modifications are being made. As far as non academic activities are concerned, the Office of Student Affairs along with all members are working on the mechanism with a combination of online and offline student activities. The Dean of Student Affairs (DoSA) is holding regular sessions with all stakeholders including students, faculty coordinators, DoSA office and other domains of administration for a well defined & structured induction program. Roles & responsibilities have already been assigned about the activities planned. Since lockdown, DoSA is meeting all SA faculty members on a weekly basis to ensure effective ongoing student related activities & requirements. Even during the lockdown period, student clubs had organized various club events through online platforms and about 38 events were effectively organized, including regular programming competitions and informative sessions, photography sessions, and open mic nights, amongst others.
The placement season usually comes into effect from July, and keeping in mind the current scenario, the Placement Committee is exploring alternatives like online testing and presentations, and online mode of interviews. They are also constantly in touch with Delhi-based as well as outstation companies and are working hard on figuring out the most reasonable solution for both companies and the students.
An important aspect that couldn’t be compromised on during the lockdown was the academic rigour of the institute. Ms. Sheetu Ahuja, Manager(Academics), gives an insight into how the academic integrity of the institute was managed in these unprecedented times. “Although we could not foresee that lockdown will be for such a long duration when it started in March, we took the decision to continue with online teaching much early in April 2020 because delays could have adverse impacts on the jobs due for joining by final year students and internships due for joining by pre-final year students”. Academic office of IIIT-Delhi headed by the Dean of Academic Affairs took proactive steps and held discussions with all Heads of the Departments and other functionaries for timely decisions on the completion of the academics that eventually proved helpful for the system. Faculty and students participated proactively in online teaching and learning. Faculty conducted classes by sharing short videos, and having live lectures using platforms like Zoom, Google Meet, etc. Since the course assessments are spread throughout the duration of the semester at IIIT-Delhi, we were already in a better shape because, by the time lockdown started, we were done with almost two-third of the evaluation in most of the courses. After around a month of the lockdown, when the situation became grimmer, we decided to complete the remaining evaluation. While the assignments and presentations were completed as planned, the end semester examinations were converted to take home examinations in the form of complex assignments. In the interest of all students to reduce uncertainty and anxiety of final year and pre-final year students, it was decided to finish the courses by 30th May 2020 and the grading by 7th June 2020. Looking at the prevailing conditions at the students’ end, we also decided that all the students other than the graduating batches, will be given a chance to improve their performance by re-appearing (if desired by the student) in the makeup end semester examination (optional) when the campus reopens.
At IIIT-Delhi, the use of technology in education delivery was already well-integrated in our education system and almost the entire academic management is online. At IIIT-Delhi, we largely use Backpack (An internal LMS developed by IIIT-Delhi Alumni) and Google classroom. The institute has an ERP system that is used for academic administrative activities like course registration, grade announcements etc. Most of the Professors used Google Meet to run classes. At the technology front, some faculty used Wacom Tablets (a writing device), Tablets with stylus, overhead projectors etc. With the provisioning of recording facility on google meet, faculty were able to share the recorded lectures with the class, which helped the students to attend the lectures as per their availability. Some of the faculty also shared online material to cater to the students who faced internet issues. Though there were some challenges in moving from physical teaching to online teaching, it turned out well with the efforts of faculty and students. We are also privileged to have an extremely supporting IT staff, who helped faculty as and when needed. The Online Classes have become a great savior and helped us tremendously in timely completion of the semester. Online Classes are also providing a great learning experience both for the students and the faculty.”
In compliance to the recent orders of the government, all administration offices are functional from 1st June, 2020. The Care Covid Committee, a committee specially dedicated to manage the institute’s needs and safety in the COVID-19 pandemic has been brought together to take care of the special needs at this time. A detailed document of guidelines and policies for the employees and students of the institute has been shared to keep everyone informed in these tumultuous times.
The institute has made and is continuing to make many efforts to curb the spread of the virus and to take care of its students, faculty and staff in a responsible manner. It has now become imperative to get used to the new normal and we must all act responsibly and do our part in the same.