Branches of the Academic Staff Union of Universities on Sunday assessed COVID-19 protocols in the universities and said the institutions were not ready for safe reopening.
The chapters of the union, in separate interviews with The PUNCH, commented on the directive of the National Universities Commission that universities could resume on January 18, but must adhere to COVID-19 protocols in hostels and lecture halls.
ASUU said although its members were ready to start work, government had not put measures in place for safe reopening of the schools.
He said, “COVID-19 is very real and this second wave is as real as described. We cannot afford to toy with our health and the health of our dear students in the name of resumption, which is politically motivated.
“There are no preparations for safe re-opening of the universities and I think parents must insist on safe re-opening. The current classroom and hostel configurations in our universities do not in any way conform with the PTF (Presidential Task Force) on COVID-19 protocols. There is no way universities can achieve that. I have said this elsewhere, that rather than for government to have addressed the obvious deficits in the public universities during the lockdown and strike, they were playing to the gallery.”
But the OAU spokesperson, Abiodun Olanrewaju, said the university management was ready for resumption and had put in place “a lot in relation to the COVID-19 protocols” in a bid to ensure safety.
ASUU at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta said the university was not ready to cope with COVID-19 challenges.
The Chairman of ASUU-FUNAAB, Dr Adebayo Oni, in an interview with one of our correspondents on Sunday, stated, “The lectures halls are overcrowded. As of today, in my own campus, I have not seen any facility for hand washing Who is to provide sanitisers? Do you expect lecturers to provide sanitisers for themselves?
“Fumigation of the environment from time to time should be done, How do you cope with students surge and the challenge of power supply ?”
Oni said the union had observed that conducting physical lectures with students would be more disastrous.
He described as alarming, figure of COVID-19. He said, “It is definitely a threat to the resumption of academic activities .
“The fact is that under this circumstance and looking at the threat of the figure, going physical with students would be more disastrous. Conducting physical session, physical lectures with students would be more disastrous.
“The truth of the matter is that we now propose a mixed model of online teaching and probably some level of physical teachings.
“Even the online teaching also comes with its own facilities which are not readily available.
“We don’t want to be pessimistic to say that it is not going to be workable. However , it is going to be at the risk of our lives and the lives of our students if the required facilities are not provided by the government.
“The truth is that the facilities to cope with the pandemic are not available in our institutions. It appears the government is not ready and our institutions are not helpful.”
Also, the Chairman of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University branch of ASUU, Dr Musa Babayo, in a text message sent to our one of our correspondents, said that the government and institutions did not show any sign of seriousness in handling COVID-19 issues when the union was on strike.
He said that ASUU in the ATBU had yet to see any tangible improvement in students’ hostel accommodation, classrooms and other things needed for COVID-19 protocols.
Babayo who said that if the Federal Government had released funds to universities, proper arrangements for the protocols would have been made by the institutions.
He said, “The coast is now very clear since has ASUU suspended its strike and it has gone further to show how government and institutions are not serious in the handling universities, particularly the issues of COVID-19.
“When you talk about ATBU and resumption whether ASUU is satisfied, I can tell you that we have yet to see any tangible improvement, whether in hostel accommodation, classrooms and other things needed for COVID-19 protocols.”
But the Public Relations Officer of the university, Bauchi, Abdulkadir Shehu, told one of our correspondents that the resumption of students of the institution had yet to be announced.
He said, “Yesterday (Saturday) fumigation of the school at both the Yelwa and Gubu campuses commenced and it will soon be concluded.”