By Aiyeku Timothy
Vice-Chancellors of some federal and state universities have countered the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) by insisting that schools can reopen for lectures as directed by the Federal Government.
Some branches of ASUU allege that COVID-19 protocols have not been put in place by the universities which makes it unsafe for students to converge for lectures.
However, some VCs said they had planned to reopen their institutions as directed by the Federal Government.
One of the VCs of a federal university in the South-West faulted ASUU’s claim that there were no guidelines for reopening varsities. “I think ASUU should begin to speak to facts. Inasmuch as we do not want the COVID-19 outbreak on our campuses, we had our plans. Some academic activities can resume for classes with a few populations,” he said.
“LASU recently held examinations for students in compliance with COVID-19 guidelines, and it went well. What do they mean by saying there is no guideline for reopening?” another VC queried.
On his part, VC of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Prof. Felix Salako, said the school would resume academic activities on January 18, in compliance with the directives of the Federal Government.
Salako maintained that measures had been put in place, including COVID-19 protocols as stipulated by the Federal Government, stressing that it was mischievous and political for any lecturer to go to the media to say that the university was not ready for academic activities.
He disclosed that the school had undergone fumigation more than 10 times since March 2020, just as there had been massive infrastructural rehabilitation while the management has been producing its own hand sanitisers, as well as procuring hand-washing basins and soaps needed to keep the students and members of staff safe from contracting the virus.
The vice-chancellor also said the university would be running what he described as “hybrid” teaching, a mix of physical and virtual learning, while no fewer than 150 solar panels had been installed in some of the buildings, to provide alternative sources of electricity and facilitate the planned hybrid system of learning delivery.
“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,” NAN quoted Salako as saying.
Meanwhile, the University of Ilorin has started online lectures as scheduled and their Benin counterpart announced that the institution would resume on January 30.
The Senate of Bayero University Kano, on Monday, approved the commencement of a new academic session on January 18, 2021, while the second semester would commence on May 3, 2021.
Also, the Senate of Ekiti State University had also announced that the institution would resume online academic activities from January 18.
Deputy Director, Corporate Communications and Protocol of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Adegbenro Adebayo, said academic activities will resume on January 18 for its students.
The Public Relations Officer of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Biodun Olarewaju, said the Senate of the institution would meet on January 19 to decide when its students would resume in compliance with COVID-19 protocols to ensure safety in the university environment.
The National Universities Commission (NUC) had directed 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, the government had not put measures in place for the safe reopening of the schools.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, on Monday, said the FG would review the January 18 earlier date fixed for resumption of schools across Nigeria.
Adamu said, “It (January 18 date of school reopening) is not sacrosanct. When we decided on that date it was just a target towards what we were working on. Of course, we are keeping it in view and looking at what is happening in society and then it is supposed to be subject to constant review.”