Students wait in line on Saturday to return to the Shouyi campus of Zhongnan University of Economics and Law in Wuhan, Hubei province, after an eight-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. SUN XINMING/FOR CHINA DAILY
After almost eight months, universities in Wuhan, the Chinese city hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, are welcoming students in staggered time slots. It's the latest sign of life getting back on track as the pandemic wanes further in the country.
More than 9,000 undergraduate students at Wuhan University began to take classes on Monday after returning to campus over the weekend, the university said.
The remaining undergraduate and graduate students are expected to return on Sept 1, 2 and 6, while the new freshmen are set to start university life on Sept 11, officials said.
At the school gates, the students' codes on their health kit apps, temperatures and identities were checked and their belongings disinfected. Their health codes and temperatures were checked again when they went to their dormitories, the university said.
School canteens have added an extra hour to the serving time for each meal to prevent large gatherings of people, and all classrooms and libraries have undergone thorough cleaning and disinfection.
Students are allowed to leave the campus only after filing an application. Couriers are not allowed onto the campus to make food deliveries.
Huang Minjie, a second-year undergraduate at the university, said she felt thrilled to be back and was surprised when she saw the large number of people in the city, so unlike the images of empty streets during the lockdown.
"I was deeply moved when I saw a banner near the school gate that reads, 'Your home is safe. Welcome back'."
Zhu Chengkang, also a second-year undergraduate, said he felt almost nothing had changed in the school.
"It's good to return to the classroom. Although we have been taking online courses for months, it's not the same as person-to-person teaching," he said.
Zhongnan University of Economics and Law in Wuhan welcomed more than 4,000 undergraduates to its Shouyi campus on Saturday.
The university's Nanhu campus is expected to welcome the remaining undergraduate and graduate students on Saturday and Sunday. New graduate students will return on Sept 6 and incoming undergraduates on Sept 13, the school said.
Students living in high-risk areas on the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and foreign countries cannot return to the school, but all other students are encouraged to return, it said.
The students' temperatures, health codes and identities were checked at the university gates, and officials have allocated personal protection equipment to students.
Students' temperatures and health conditions are checked three times a day, and they are instructed to immediately report to student counselors if they develop any symptoms.
University campuses are mostly closed. Unauthorized people are not allowed to enter and students are discouraged from leaving the campus. They must report their transportation and travel routes outside the campus if they leave in case of an emergency.
The school does not allow any conferences or activities involving large gatherings, and students are encouraged to order takeout dishes from the school canteen to avoid big gatherings, officials added.
The Ministry of Education has recently required efforts to restore normal teaching at the country's schools and universities with effective anti-epidemic measures in place.
A notice, issued by the office of the ministry's leading group for COVID-19 responses, asked local education authorities as well as colleges and universities to make plans to prepare to reopen schools and universities for the autumn semester.