Most final-year students of public tertiary institutions across the country have complied with the directive to return to school to complete their programmes.
Yesterday (Monday, June 15, 2020), the students reported to school, and although there was no mad rush to return, there was no time to waste either, as they were ushered into faculty meetings, group work and lectures.
From the University of Ghana, Legon, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), the specialised universities through to the technical universities, students arrived on the campuses, hoping to complete their exit programmes safely, amid concerns over the rising cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections.
While on campus, these students who began academic work from yesterday, June 15, will complete studies on July 24, while final examinations will be conducted from July 27 to August 21.
To allay their concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, last Sunday President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo stressed that adequate measures had been put in place to ensure the safety of students, teaching and non-teaching staff on the various campuses.
“We cannot say that because of the pandemic we are no longer interested in issues of social justice, such as education and health.
“Education, indeed, is the key to the future of our country. The quality of education that our educational institutions produce, ultimately, will determine the success or otherwise of our nation,” he said.
Reiterating the need for everyone to strictly adhere to the safety and preventive protocols, the President also indicated that the government had provided the logistics to ensure safety and prevention.
He said 6,000 nose masks had been distributed to the tertiary institutions to enable every student, teaching and non-teaching staff to have three reusable masks.
Also, the government had provided 1,700 Veronica buckets, 200,000 litres of hand sanitiser, 3,400 litres of liquid soap and 900 thermometer guns to be distributed to all institutions, he said.
Additionally, institutions with their own hospitals and clinics had been equipped with the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) and had isolation centres to deal with any positive cases, while all other institutions without their own clinics and hospitals had been mapped to health facilities, he added.
Ahead of the arrival of the students, almost all the institutions were disinfected.
When the Daily Graphic visited some of the campuses between 9 a.m. and midday yesterday, it observed that only a handful of students had reported.
Although some of the institutions had the ‘no mask, no entry’ signs at the entrances, the facilities for the observation of the other preventive and safety protocols had been moved to the halls of residence, the administrative blocks and the various departments.
Students arrived individually in commercial vehicles such as taxis and Uber and headed straight to their halls.
Almost all of them had their nose masks on.
It seemed those who had scheduled meetings arrived early to prepare for those schedules.
From the campuses of the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS), the Evangelical Presbyterian University College (EPUC) and the Ho Technical University (HTU), all in the Volta Regional capital, Ho, Bright Selase Afavi reports that some students seemed to have settled in early and were seen sitting by themselves, reading their books under trees on the various campuses.
Speaking with the Daily Graphic, the Assistant Registrar, Admissions and Public Relations, at the EPUC, Mr MacLiberty Misrowoda, said the institution had taken enough steps to make the campus safe for the 350 students expected to report.
He also confirmed that the university had taken delivery of logistics from the government to allow for the observation of the safety and preventive protocols.
Mr Misrowoda stressed that the school authorities would go round all the time to make sure the students were observing the safety protocols.
“We are going to make sure we do everything to protect the students from contracting the virus. Everybody’s life is at stake here; when the students have it and care is not taken, we the lecturers will also contract it and so we must be careful,” he said.
A final-year student of the HTU, Godfred Dankwa, said he was relieved that an arrangement had been put in place to enable him and his mates complete their courses.
He said he was going to be very cautious while on campus to ensure his safety.
Another final-year student, Lordina Apedo, said although she was concerned about contracting the virus, she had no choice but to report for school and so she would do her best to protect herself by avoiding crowded places, in addition to observing the safety protocols.
Doreen Andoh reports that the University of Ghana, Legon and the University of Professional Studies, Accra had prepared to receive their final-year students by putting in place all the safety protocols the President directed ahead of reopening to only final-year students.
The two universities had the “no mask, no entry” inscription at their main entrances and on all door posts, had Veronica buckets, soap, hand sanitiser and paper towels at vantage points, while the temperature of all patrons of the two facilities were taken at various receptions.
At the UPSA, the Pro-Vice Chancellor, Prof. Charles Barnor, said although the university had completed its academic year successfully, with the help of a nationally approved virtual learning platform put in place before the COVID-19 pandemic, it had still instituted all the safety protocols for staff, as well as students who would need to come to the campus to have their academic concerns addressed.
He said all such students would have to first report at the school’s health facility to be cleared before being given access to the university.
He was hopeful that by Thursday all such concerns would have been addressed and there would be no student on campus.
At the University of Ghana, Legon, some students were seen arriving, while others were registering at the halls, amid strict safety protocols, with others seen with their books heading for lectures.
Michael Danso, a final-year Political Science and French student, said they did virtual learning and had started their examination virtually, confirming that they had been asked to either choose the virtual school or come to campus.
He said he had chosen the virtual school but had issues with his registration and had, therefore, come to seek redress.
A postgraduate student in Religion, Mr Emmanuel Anadzie, said although they were given the option between the virtual programme and campus learning, majority of them had opted for virtual learning because most of the students in his class had travelled outside Accra.
From the Accra Technical University (ATU), Ruby Delanyo Buafor and Jennifer Kwasin observed that there was no checking of the temperature of people entering at both entrances, although security persons at post enforced the “no mask, no entry” rule.
While some students were preparing to enter lecture halls for classes, a group of electrical engineering students who spoke with the Daily Graphic expressed their displeasure at the government’s decision to reopen schools when the country’s case count was on the increase.
According to them, the school authorities had not put in place enough measures to ensure their safety on campus, as their temperature was not even checked before they entered the campus.
“It is still not safe for us to return to school, with what we are seeing here. We wish to do our service and when the case count reduces then we can resume school and write our exams. We don’t mind graduating next year or next two years,” they said.
The Senior Porter at the school’s New Hostel, Mr Aaron Tetteh, said arrangements had been put in place to encourage physical distancing.
“Under normal circumstances, each room takes between three and eight students, depending on the size of the room, but the number has been reduced to two to ensure physical distancing,” he said, adding that “about 19 students have so far reported today and we are expecting more in the course of the week”.
From Kumasi, Emmanuel Baah reports that students of both the KNUST and the Kumasi Technical University (KsTI) were gradually reporting on the various campuses.
At every vantage point on the campuses, especially at the entrances to the residential halls, one could easily spot Veronica buckets, with tissue paper and hand sanitiser for students to use.
The University Relations Officer of the KNUST, Dr Daniel Norris Bekoe, said 150 final-year students pursuing Medical, Pharmacy, Medical Diagnostic and Veterinary Medicine programmes, were expected to report to take practical lessons.
He said the authorities had fumigated the entire campus three times, and that “KNUST is safe and prepared for academic activities”.
He said to ensure physical distancing, a room at the residential halls which, before the outbreak of the pandemic, housed four students at a time now housed a student.
Unlike the other institutions, the KsTI did not reopen yesterday but had set a new date for students to report.
A source close to the institution disclosed this to the Daily Graphic.