Published: 14th January 2022
Did Krea University in Sri City delay the results of COVID tests taken from their own staff, students?
The students are asked to vacate the campus by the university authorities without conducting another round of RT PCR test
Students of Krea University in Sri City have alleged that they were kept in the dark after a faculty member and a few students tested positive for COVID. They claim that they found out about the infections via their peers and allege serious lapses on part of the institution in terms of communication and called Krea's bio-bubble a "sham". For their part, the varsity is in the process of temporarily closing down the campus, which is nearly 70 km from Chennai and is located in Andhra Pradesh, in view of the worsening COVID situation.
The students have claimed that a professor tested positive on January 5. However, according to an email verified by Edex, the university conducted a round of RT-PCR tests only on January 7 — and there was no mention of any active cases on campus in the mail at this point. "By then we knew that a professor had tested positive. He had told some of his students on January 6 and the students told many of us. There was no official word from the university," says one third-year student.
The test results of 463 people were declared negative on the morning of January 9 via mail. The email sent by the varsity reads, "I am happy to share the news that all the RT-PCR tests conducted on 463 people yesterday (students, staff, faculty, support staff and family members) have turned out to be negative. Please continue to strictly follow all the recommended COVID protocols. Please convey the above to the students’ community on the campus."
The students were already restless as the results should've ideally been out by January 8 and they claimed that they didn't really trust the results. "We were far from believing that not a single person tested positive. It was obvious to us that there had to be some positive cases as that professor had taken a class a day before his test results came," the student said.
Meanwhile, students also alleged that on the same day as the mail declaring everyone was negative was sent (Jan 9 at 8:55 am), a few students were contacted separately and were told that they tested positive for COVID-19. This remains unverified.
A screenshot of the email sent to the Krea University authorities, late on Jan 9, by students of IFMR Graduate School of Business
A grievance mail by a student, sent on January 11 to Krea's administration, shared with Edexlive, points to several lapses on the part of the institute, "For almost 9 hours, the management failed to mention that there were 3 borderline tests, and went on to privately call those students later that day, after people have been sharing spaces maskless, to inform them alone that their test was actually positive instead of informing the school at large."
A second-year student of Social Studies said they had symptoms and tried to get a test done on campus, but they dissuaded them from even taking a Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT). "When I went to the on-campus health centre on Jan 11 and told them my symptoms, I was denied a RAT and instead given paracetamol and azithromycin. My parents brought a home test kit from Chennai on January 12 and I tested positive," the student said. The student has not stepped out of their room ever since they first went to the campus health centre earlier this week.
All students have now been asked to vacate the campus but many are unwilling to do so without one more round of RT-PCR tests by the university. The students also believe that quarantining on campus till everyone tests negative is their best option instead of putting their families at risk.
How did people bring the disease into the varsity? "The Bio-bubble was a sham. While students were made to adhere to it, the administration was lenient on the faculty. The professors could get out of the bubble and come back whenever they pleased," the student claimed.
Part of the grievance mail mentioned earlier in the report. Names of individuals have been redacted to maintain their privacy
As a result, some students may file an internal complaint against the faculty members who they believe violated COVID protocol. They may also do a "socially-distanced sit-in" on the campus demanding one more round of campus-wide RT PCR based on which students can either quarantine or leave for home. Even as classes were in a hybrid mode, in-person lectures have been suspended and online classes have been put on hold till January 17.
When contacted, the university administration said that they had chosen to not comment on the matter but directed Edexlive towards the official note by the Vice-Chancellor of Krea University put on their website on January 13. The note reads, "After serious and careful consideration of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Krea University campus residents, it was decided on January 12, 2022 to strongly advise students to make preparations to exit the campus."
It added, "The decision to advise departure follows an assessment of an emerging situation. We will continue to review developments and hope students and faculty can all return to a fully active and functioning campus in safe, healthy and stable conditions. This difficult decision was taken in the interests of the health and safety of all."
The note continues, "The same applied to faculty and families in Sri City, who do not live on campus. All precautions as per standard norms have been followed. Please note all, repeat all, on campus are double vaccinated and also that COVID protocols prevail as per norms." All classes were suspended from 12th to 17th January inclusive and the University will facilitate travel arrangements for students.