Covid: School Resumption Date Triggers Disharmony Among ASUU, Varsities, Students As FG Weighs Options

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  • ASUU: Resuming Now ‘Would Be More Disastrous’
  • Varsities: We’re Ready To Resume In Line With PTF Covid-19 Protocols 
  • Varsity Students Rage At ASUU, FG

By Abiola Olawale

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and some Vice Chancellors (VC) are at discord over the proposed January 18 resumption date for varsities nationwide.

While some institutions across the country have made moves to begin academic activities in compliance with Covid-19 protocols next Monday, ASUU had warned against such moves, citing the rising Covid-19 cases and the level of unpreparedness in tertiary institutions to put the right facilities in place needed to stop the virus spread.

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Recall the National Universities Commission (NUC) had on January 8 directed all University Vice-Chancellors in the country to resume academic activities in their various institutions on January 18, 2021.

NUC’s Deputy Executive Secretary, Chris Maiyaki gave the directive for the resume of academic activities in line with the directives of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.

But the federal government dampened the enthusiasm on Monday, as the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu said the January 18th resumption date for schools across the country is subject to constant review. The minister said the government is reviewing the January 18th resumption date for schools due to the rising COVID-19 cases.

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ASUU had on Sunday expressed concerns over the resumption of academic activities on January 18 due to the escalating Covid-19 cases and deaths in the country as the union insisted that the federal government must put measures in place to ensure that schools reopen in compliance with the Covid-19 protocols.

Dr. Adebayo Oni, ASUU chairman, Federal University of Agriculture (FUNAAB), Abeokuta chapter, said on Sunday that reopening of schools would be disastrous now. He said, “The lecture Halls are overcrowded. As of today, in my own campus, I have not seen any facility or hand washing basins. Who is to provide sanitizers 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? 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 lecturers with students would be more disastrous.”

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However, while responding to Oni’s submission, Professor Felix Salako, the Vice Chancellor of FUNAAB, said his school was ready for resumption.

Salako addressed the issues put to the fore by FUNAAB Chairman, Oni at a press conference on Tuesday, saying the institution was ready for resumption as they have made available for essential safety materials in line with Covid-19 protocols for school reopening.

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He said it was inappropriate for any lecturer to go to the media to say the University was not ready for academic activities when it is clear that the institution has provided various materials to ensure the safety of the lives of students and lecturers.

The VC also revealed that the school premises had been fumigated more than 10 times since March 2020, when the pandemic started. The last fumigation of the school premises was done between 28th of December, 2020 and 4th of January, 2021, according to him.

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While speaking on the mode of teaching to be used, the VC said, “The virtual learning will take care of large classes, like the part one students, but for fewer classes, we have large halls to accommodate the students.”

The management of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) also announced on their website that the institution would resume on January 30.

The press statement reads: “The University of Benin has released the amended calendar for the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 Academic session. At the end of a meeting of the University’s Senate on Monday 4th January 2021, it was resolved that old students of the institution should come into residence on the 30th of January to continue First Semester lecturers on Monday 1st of February, 2021.”

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The New Diplomat’s checks also reveal that University of Ilorin (UNILORIN) has commenced online classes on Monday. The institution has resumed academic activities, although physical classes have not started yet.

All these revelations are coming after ASUU and FG said there was a need to review the January 18 resumption date following the rise of Covid-19 cases in the country.

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It would be recalled that Nigeria crossed a grim milestone on Sunday when it hit 100,000 mark on its Covid-19 case tally. This has raised concerns over the reopening of schools on January 18.

On the part of the university students, it appears they want varsities to go ahead with the January 18, resumption date by putting in place all the materials needed for safe reopening of schools.

After losing 9 months to the industrial action embarked upon by striking lecturers, many of the students are not taking it lightly with ASUU this time, for pushing for a postponement of the resumption date as they urged federal government to equip varsities with modern learning facilities necessary for online learning.

  • Some of the students reacted on Twitter this way:

 

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