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COVID-19: ASUU says members can’t guarantee physical distancing in classes, hostels

The President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Professor Biodun Ogunyemi has said members of the union cannot guarantee social distancing in crowded classes and congested hostels.

Ogunyemi, who spoke on Tuesday while featuring in a television programme, said that safety measures are yet to be put in place at learning centres by government in view of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ASUU President also noted that the safety of both students and university workers is a priority.

Ogunyemi, who expressed worry that university professors are dying of COVID-19, said: “We have not seen government and university authorities taking concrete steps to access the level of safety for our members and for our students.

“In as much as we are ready to go back, we are ready to put in extra efforts but it appears that government is not doing enough to address the two emergencies that we have – the emergency in the health sector as well as the emergency in the educational sector.

“Take for instance, how can we ensure or assure social distancing in crowded classes and congested hostels? Our hostels, are they fumigated? The classrooms, what flexible arrangements should be in place? I’m not sure universities can cope.”

According to the ASUU president, the NUC and the government were yet to enforce all Covid guidelines in the universities, adding that the government should visit universities in the country and ensure all Covid protocols were in place just as it did before the reopening of the aviation sector.

Read also: Almost no difference between ASUU and Boko Haram —Progressive Governors Forum DG

Ogunyemi further disclosed that there are plans by lecturers to evolve an alternative mode of learning, adding, that some lecturers are also working on blending physical and virtual classes to avoid overcrowding and ensure that physical distancing are maintained.

He added: “But the universities don’t have functional ICT (Information Communications Technology) infrastructure and you need some huge funds to do this.

“People are saying start virtual classes but we know that more than 60 per cent of our students will run into problems because they cannot afford data on their own and the wifi you are expected to see on campuses are not there. We have this limited capacity where government should come in and ensure that the university environment is conducive for alternative models of teaching and learning.”

It would be recalled that the Federal Government through the NUC had asked universities in the country to resume on January 18, 2021 for academic activities. However, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu on Monday said the resumption of schools in the country has been put off indefinitely.

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