TASCE EXAMINATIONS: College community defies COVID apathy, insists on full safety compliance
By Oludare Osiboye
Covid-19, a new strain of coronavirus (SARS-COV-2) was first reported to World Health Organization on the 31st of December, 2019 in Wuhan, China. Since then, the World Health Organization has repeatedly reiterated that there are no medicines that have been shown to prevent COVID-19.
Therefore, the non-pharmaceutical prevention protocols have consistently been emphasized by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19. Thus, the cardinal rituals of hand-washing, wearing of face mask and physical distancing remains the proven antidote for the spread of the virus.
However, it appears these protocols are being carelessly ditched each passing day, post lock-down in Nigeria. Invariable the inability of the populace to strictly adhere to these protocols grossly undermines the high level strategic national response to the virus in Nigeria. The surge in these careless attitudes towards the COVID-19 protocols is as a result of misinformation that has taken over the air waves. People are daily falling for dangerous lies spread around about COVID-19. Misinformation articulating how sunshine, warm weather and drinking warm saline water etc. can eliminate or have eliminated COVID-19 rents the air particularly through social media on a regular basis.
These innocuous ideas have lured people into a false sense of safety thus discouraging them from adhering to government’s, COVID-19 guidelines and eroding the trust in national public health directives. But in Tai Solarin College of Education, Omu-Ijebu, the story is different.
The atmosphere that heralded and sustains in the conduct of the first semester examination in Tai Solarin College of Education from the 28th September, 2020 was, and remains a marvel to behold. The compliance with non-pharmaceutical intervention of hand-washing under running water, wearing of the face mask and physical distancing was total. To underscore the importance of the safety protocols, the SUG (Student Union Government), of their own volition, produced and distributed face masks for free to the students and staff to aid compliance. Physical distancing was absolutely adhered to particularly in the examination halls.
It began with the Time Table, and Implementation and Monitoring Committees holding joint meetings a week ahead, to spread out the examinations to avoid congestions and ensure a controlled number of students in the campus at every given examination time. Then, they did a census of the number of rooms and seats required for each examination in compliance with the social distancing insisted upon by the College Management. All the while, the school security outfit was patrolling and accosting students who were not complying with protocols, admonishing them and in some cases apprehending them until they complied. By the time the examination began, only in rare cases were students found without their face masks in place.
On a daily basis, the rituals of hand washing by students and their invigilators preceded the release of examination booklets and the process is repeated before answer booklets are received from students. During the compulsory Education courses, lecturers of the School of Education were out in force, dispensing hand sanitizers to students and invigilators at every entrance into the examination rooms.
Loads of dispensing vessels containing water, along with bottles of liquid soaps and sanitizers remain placed in strategic locations all over the campus, ensuring that students do not have to go far before washing their hands under running water. The consistency of observing this COVID-19 prevention protocols points to the fact that the students and the staffs of the college are very well aware of the fact that there is no pharmaceutical panacea for preventing COVID-19 other than the protocols of hand washing, application of alcohol based hand sanitizer, physical distancing and wearing of face masks.
The commendable adherence to the NCDC rules by the TASCE community has indeed defied the interregnum of the guidelines to prevent COVID-19 prevailing in the larger community.
Thus, the proactive steps taken by the Management of the College and the discipline exhibited by the students and their lecturers could provide the template other higher institutions that are yet to resume academic activities could learn from and lean on in their quest to uphold COVID-19 prevention protocols on their various campuses.
Oludare Osiboye is a lecturer in the School of Science in Tai Solarin College of Education, Omu-Ijebu