Friday, July 30, 2021

COVID-19: Reps kick against reopening, want schools shut for 3 months

The committee says Nigerian schools need a three-month moratorium to allow the pandemic subside.

• January 18, 2021
The Speaker of House of Reps, Femi Gbajabiamila
The Speaker of House of Reps, Femi Gbajabiamila (Photo Credit: Channels TV)

The House of Representatives’ committee on basic education has disapproved of the federal government’s waiver for the resumption of schools nationwide Monday. 

The committee says Nigerian schools need a three-month moratorium to allow the pandemic subside while safety modalities are put in place.

The committee said in its resolution obtained by Peoples Gazette Sunday that less than 10 percent of educational institutions across the country have satisfactorily implemented safety protocols to limit the spread of the rapidly transmissible coronavirus.

The Ministry of Education has kept faith with its proposed January 18 resumption date, despite thousands of new infections recorded in the past week.

A statement signed by Chairman of the House committee, Julius Ihonvbere, questioned why schools are being hurried into resumption when Nigeria has steadily recorded over one 1000 daily infections in recent days.

“We are particularly concerned that when the infection rates hovered around 500 and under, schools were closed but now that it hovers well above 1000 infections daily, schools are being reopened,” the statement said.

“Why are we rushing to reopen schools without adequate verifiable and sustainable arrangements to protect and secure our children?” it queried.

The committee expressed worry that only Lagos and a few other states had fully demonstrated commitment in enforcing COVID-19 safety guidelines, while noting that proper sanitation and hygiene facilities were nonexistent in many primary and secondary schools nationwide.

“We would like to challenge the federal ministry of education to first, independently monitor the extent of basic compliance with established protocols in all our schools and not just take words of state and local authorities as given,” the House committee suggested in its resolution.

While recommending that schools be kept shut for at least three months, the federal lawmakers insisted that classroom sessions must be segmented into batches to effectively achieve social distancing.

The federal government’s insistence on reopening schools in the wake of surging COVID-19 numbers have generated mixed feelings amongst Nigerians, some of whom express fear about the unguaranteed safety of school children.

Others argue that the virus has come to stay, hence critical sectors such as education should not be left redundant.

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