Following the Federal Government directive for schools to resume and the recommendations of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Business Committee of the Senate on the proposed adjustment of the 2019/2020 Academic calendar, the OAU Senate Body held a virtual meeting through Zoom earlier today to discuss the conditions for resumption. Thus, they have approved the proposed calendar and fixed resumption date for February 7, 2021.
This decision was made known through a Statement from the University Management which was released few hours ago. As stated in the release, the Senate has also approved the cancellation of the 2020/2021 academic session.
Sources that attended the Zoom meeting said that the Vice Chancellor of the University, Dr. Eyitope Ogunbodede and other members of the Senate who were all in their respective locations, still made sure to “observe” COVID-19 guidelines by wearing their masks while they discussed.
After sympathising with students students and their plight, Ogunbodede made it clear that it would not be possible for all Students and Staff of the University to fully resume until the COVID-19 pandemic is totally out of the way.
However, asides COVID-19 which was said to be the primary reason why full resumption would not be possible at the moment, some statements made in the course of the meeting exposed some other issues which the University Management is currently dealing with.
One of these issues is that the Federal Government has supposedly not paid the COVID-19 fund allocated to the University, thus, resumption would not be feasible because the internally generated funds currently available are not enough to run the University and observe the necessary COVID-19 guidelines.
Another hindrance mentioned during the meeting, is that the management also cannot afford the increase in electricity bills which will be incurred if the school resumes fully. This clearly poses a major issue to the University Management because it means that they currently lack the required funds to control the financial affairs of the University.
Before they eventually came to a conclusion after the meeting, the Senate deliberated on several propositions for the best conditions for resumption.
One of these deliberations was whether or not to shut down “New Buka” where most students go to eat and socialize on campus, so as to ensure zero social activities for the session in line with the major COVID-19 rule of social distancing.
A professor present at the meeting also suggested that as a solution, they could apply a mixed approach whereby one half of the Students first resume physically and the other half takes online lectures for a period of time, and then they swap afterwards; the students who had earlier resumed on campus then go back home to continue lectures online while those who were previously engaged online, resume on campus for their own physical lectures.
Provision of buses to bring students to campus in batches so as to avoid large crowds was also suggested.
It was further proposed and finally decided that only Final Year students in the Faculty of Science should resume on campus for their lectures, implying that resumption of Science students is more crucial than that of other students who have equally been held back at home for almost a year.
Thus, all Clinical students as well as final year Pharmacy and Agricultural Science students are to resume and come into their halls of residence on the 7th of February, while stalites and final year students in other departments and faculties asides the aforementioned are to have their classes online, after a two-week training of lecturers to teach them how to properly handle the Online Classes and the mediums to be used for it.
Although the move for Online Classes is commendable, the feasibility of this move seems rather low, especially because majority of the lecturers still need to be taught how to use the major platforms for online classes, especially getting the settings right on Zoom for the classes.
There may also be network issues which would definitely stall the process and make it difficult for students to gain and participate properly from the classes.
Nonetheless, most students are eager to move on with their academic study, whether physically or online, after almost a full year of staying at home and waiting on the Federal Government and their University Management to take necessary actions.