INSIDE STORY: DESPITE ‘Guidelines,’ UI Community flouts COVID-19 Protocols (Series 1)

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By Tijani Abdul Kabir

As part of the condition for resumption during the second wave of the Pandemic, the government gave the assurance that there would be modifications in the learning approach and full compliance to safety guidelines as recommended by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

According to the NCDC, schools were expected to comply with the following guidelines: “Ensure that a triage point is identified and well-marked at the entrance where everyone gaining access to the school is screened for high temperature, requested to wear masks and perform hand hygiene.”

“Ensure that classrooms are well ventilated with a minimum of one metre sitting arrangement. Ensure that all staff, visitors, and students above 6 years wear face masks at all times. All schools must ensure that there is sufficient access to running water, soap, and handwashing facilities.”

 After a tour of the university campus, this reporter observed that the protocols were mere charades – there was a little form of enforcement. Though management set up handwashing facilities with running water at Halls of residence, banners were hung at the entrance of each hall to instruct students on the protocols to be observed but at the main gates that lead into the institution facilities were not provided and even the usage of nose masks was not being mandated; classes were overcrowded, student show apathy and social distancing is not maintained.

How it began

After the back and forth on if it was safe for schools to reopen, the University of Ibadan Research Committee through the school’s official Twitter page on February 8 2021 announced Covid-19 Guidelines and Protocols for University Activities.

This reporter observed that during the early days of the release of these guidelines, at the main gate that leads into the school, nose masks were made compulsory for people coming in with security officials stationed to monitor the influx of people, a more recent observation shows that there was no serious compliance any longer and even revelations within the campus proved the same.

 Why are you not wearing a nose mask? This reporter asked a male student in the faculty of Social Sciences who did not have a nose mask at all but found his way into the school.

“It’s not a prerequisite to enter the school any longer,” he said. He continued, boasting of begging the security officer in a few instances that he was denied entry and after explaining to them that he doesn’t have the mask or neither money to get one, he would still be allowed to enter.

Meanwhile, this reporter removed his nose mask and strolled out of the school gate and returned after about three hours but he was not stopped by the security official and during this period the “chair” stationed at the small gate where pedestrians passed through was also vacant.

Unlike the first gate where there is even a tendency of being denied entry when one takes the nose mask off, this reporter further observed that at the other gate of the school which leads into the Ajibode Community, provisions were not made for Covid-19 Protocols.

Though only a few students ply this route despite the committee directives, there was no enforcement at all on the protocols to be observed.

TRANSPORTATION

Spurred by the Covid-19 measures in place, the Students’ Union body of the institution in its memo dated June 27, 2021, and made available to the public analyzed the new-on-campus transportation guidelines adjusted to reflect upholding of the Covid-19 Protocols and the punishment accruing to defaulting operators.

Despite these directives and emphasis of the Union on punishment, this reporter observed that there was no compliance with the guidelines as would have been expected.

Although, on three different instances, it was observed that Tricycle operators on campus abide by protocol. They insisted on not taking more than two passengers at a time but for bus operators, they continued with the normal operating style which does not enforce the protocols at all.

When one of the Tricycle operators was asked why he insisted on not taking more than two passengers despite the crowd, his response points to the guideline released by the research committee as well as the directive of the Students’ Union.

“Oga, I can’t take more than two passengers. If I do, I will be punished by the school management,” he said.

  • A bus carrying jam-packed commuters

The buses are always crowded. Aside from the front seat that takes two passengers, every other is loaded with four passengers each and this automatically defies the rules of social distance.

HALLS OF RESIDENCE

The situation was not different in halls of residence. Though there are handwashing facilities at the entrance leading into the Halls, it showed evidence of neglect and students only use them at will.

These facilities and the banner hung at the entrance of Halls gave the impression that it was serious with compliance but revelations within the halls proved otherwise.

At Sultan Bello, this reporter observed deficiency for safety protocols by the Hall Management. Nose Masks are not compulsory for entry except for a few days and despite running water complemented with handwashing facilities and hand sanitizers, students don’t bother washing their hands.

  • Sultan Bello Hall
  • Washing hand facilities at Sultan Bello Hall

Against the measure in place, this reporter took off his nose mask and moved in and out of this hall on three different instances but there was no one to enforce the safety protocols. Although the hall is not crowded, observations show that the rules have been relaxed.

Unlike Bello Hall where a bit of the rule is in operation, this reporter observed that at Tedder Hall the opposite seems to be the case. A banner was hung at the entrance that leads into the hall and it said, “No Nose Mask, No Entry.” but there was no enforcement.

  • Lord Tedder Hall

The handwashing facilities erected at this hall were probably only accessible to the occupants while others who came in to make transactions or use the cafeteria enjoyed freewill.

  • Students watching a football match at Tedder Hall

When this reporter visited the hall on a Saturday afternoon, there was an ongoing Football match but none of the viewers seen at the Cafeteria had masks on as well as no social distance was observed. Further check shows that there was no compliance with the measures put in place whatsoever.

The situation at Mellanby Hall was also not different from others when this reporter visited. There were handwashing facilities properly erected and complemented with running water and hand Sanitizers but there was no enforcement of the Covid-19 protocols.

  • Mellanby Hall

For instance, at the entrance of the hall there was also a banner hung and it instructed people to use nose masks before entering but when this reporter visited, the rules had been relaxed with no compliance to the guidelines any longer.

Although, the hall was calm with no form of large gathering observed. There was a record of a party that was held for Fresh students of the hall on August 13 2021 and available information shows that the guidelines were floated.

Meanwhile, at the Great Independence Hall, this reporter observed that the guidelines perhaps do not exist at all. The visit collided with the day that a party was being held for Fresh students of the Hall and the deficiency was too much.

  • I I Independence Hall
  • Gyration at Indy Hall
  • Gyration at Indy

Unlike others, there was no banner at the entrance of these halls that instructed people to wear nose masks. Hand washing facilities were also not accessible before entering and it was also observed that the use of nose masks was not a compulsory requirement to enter. Anyone, both male and female without recourse enjoyed free entry and existed on the party day.

This reporter tried using the handwashing facilities, and while the water was running, hand sanitizers were not available for use. In total disregard to the University guidelines, this reporter for more than five hours that he was present at the Hall, many of the people who come into the hall did not have nose masks on them, a few only use it at their discretion. When the party started, there was no sign of physical distancing and a crowd of not less than hundred people was seen at the dance floor gathered to dance to the music.

Some students were also observed strolling Nnamdi Azikwe Hall without serious compliance to the guidelines, the atmosphere was calm but the situation was different at the Female Hostel when this reporter spoke with a few students from each of these halls of residence.

These students emphasized that aside from the proper handwashing facilities and banners that instruct people on the Covid-19 protocols, the wearing of Nose Masks is compulsory for entry into the hall with serious compliance.

Students defy the management, say COVID-19 is not real

In a random chat with some students, it was observed that students are also responsible for failing to uphold the COVID-19 protocols and that’s even despite the effort to ensure that safety protocols are in place. It was surprising that many students engaged in this chat perceived COVID-19 not even considering scientific evidence and the global communities as unreal.

One of them is Junaid Bolarinwa (Not real name) a Class Representative on campus who preferred anonymity. He argued that the virus only existed during the emergency period but at the moment, those infected cases reported by NCDC are mere “Malaria.” He continued saying that the daily announcements of cases by NCDC are “Propaganda.”

Also, Iman Fatai (Not real name) an Honourable member of a Faculty who also preferred anonymity said, “The virus does not exist at all,” he said justifying his refusal to wear a nose mask and adhere to protocols.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the use of nose masks is a “key measure to suppress transmission and save lives.” WHO stated in a detailed publication that examines the use of nose masks that masks should be used in crowded places where observing physical distance might be impossible.

“Masks should be used as part of a comprehensive ‘Do it all!’ approach including physical distancing, avoiding crowded, closed and close-contact settings, good ventilation, cleaning hands, covering sneezes and coughs, and more. For indoor public settings such as busy shopping centres, religious buildings, restaurants, schools and public transport, you should wear a mask if you cannot maintain physical distance from others,” WHO explains.

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