Members of the University Academic Workers Union express their reservations with respect to the resumption date of 18 January for academic activities at all universities across the country.
In 2020, tertiary institutions nationwide were closed for more than 9 months, partially due to the union’s protracted strike action and the COVID19 pandemic.
ASUU called off their strike on December 23. On January 18, the NUC Commission of National Universities requested universities to resume classes.
The Reopening Order came with a clear warning that school administrators would ensure strict compliance with all COVID19 procedures, including sanitization, facemask wearing and social distancing.
However, Academic Union officials say that the date of resumption is not feasible, since most institutions are unable to comply with the protocols of COVID19.
In classrooms and hostels that are already crowded, the chairmen of different chapters of the union in different institutions said the COVID19 protocols can not be adhered to.
Dr Adeola Egbedokun, chairman of the union at the University of Obafemi Awolowo, said that no arrangements had been made so far for the safe reopening of the universities and urged parents to focus on protection before re-opening.
COVID-19 is very real and, as mentioned, this second wave is as real. In the name of resumption, which is politically driven, we can not afford to play with our wellbeing and the health of our dear learners.
There are no plans for safe university re-openings, and I believe parents need to focus on safe re-openings.
In our universities, the existing classroom and hostel arrangements do not in any way adhere to the COVID-19 protocols of the PTF (Presidential Task Force).
Universities have no means of accomplishing that. I have said this elsewhere, that during the lockdown and strike, they were playing at the gallery instead of the government having tackled the apparent deficits in public universities.
Dr. Adebayo Oni, chairman of the union at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta FUNAAB, said it was tragic to reopen universities for physical lectures at a time when the country is witnessing the second wave of a pandemic that has been identified as deadlier.
The halls for lectures are overcrowded. As of today, I haven’t seen any hand washing facilities on my own campus.
Who is to have sanitizers? Do you plan to have lecturers supply themselves with sanitizers? From time to time, fumigation of the atmosphere should be handled, how do you deal with the influx of students and the power supply challenge?
The resumption of academic activities is certainly a threat. The truth is that it would be more disastrous to go physically with students under this situation and look at the danger of the number.
It would be more catastrophic to hold physical sessions and physical lectures with students.
The truth is that we are now proposing a mixed online teaching model and probably a certain level of physical teaching. Even online teaching also comes with its own services that are not readily accessible.
To say that it is not going to be workable, we don’t want to be pessimistic. It will, however, be at risk for our lives and the lives of our students if the government does not provide the necessary facilities.
The truth is that in our institutions, the facilities to deal with the pandemic are not available. The government appears not to be ready and our institutions are not helpful. Oni said.