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COVID-19: NMA, lawmakers caution government to consider experts’ advice on school resumption

*The Nigerian Medical Association says the authorities must ensure compliance with COVID-19 safety guidelines and protocols of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control at school resumption

*Our position is that in spite of the very comprehensive protocols established by the Federal Ministry of Education, not up to 10 percent of our educational institutions have implemented five percent of the protocols ─House of Representatives

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

Against the backdrop of the recent surge in the number of Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the country, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has advised the Federal and state governments against disregarding medical experts’ advice on the raging virus.

Prof. Innocent Ujah, President of NMA, who stated this in a telephone interview with Daily Trust, Sunday, January 17, 2021, regarding the government’s decision to reopen schools beginning from Monday, January 18, said the association would not advise government not to reopen schools.

Ujah maintained that authorities must ensure compliance with COVID-19 guidelines of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

Most schools are expected to resume in Nigeria from Monday, January 18, 2021

The health expert spoke as Coronavirus cases in the country rose from 75,062 December 17, 2020 to 108,943 Sunday, January 17, 2021.

In the same period, COVID-19 deaths increased from 1,200 to 1,420, an increase of 220, according to the NCDC.

The NMA President stated: “What we are saying is that for schools to reopen, authorities must be prepared. We don’t know how long COVID-19 will last for us to say schools should not reopen.

“But what we are saying is that they (school authorities) must prepare to comply with the NCDC protocols of hand washing at several points not just one point.”

He also stated that “in the universities where we have a large number of people in faculties and departments, there must be points for hand washing and sanitisers.

“The issue of face mask is a must and social distancing in the classrooms is also important.”

The NMA suggested that lectures should conduct classes online, as he said, “once we comply with these protocols, I believe they will reduce the spread.”

Meanwhile, nursery, primary and secondary schools in several states of the Federation, including Lagos, Ogun, Ogun, Ebonyi and Nasarawa are expected to resume academic activities for the second term of the 2020/21 academic year Monday, January 18, 2021.

Some higher institutions, both Federal and states, had also signified their intention to resume academic activities today.

However, resumption at basic schools was delayed in many states following the   second wave of COVID-19 as well as the advice by the NCDC.

Schools in Oyo State, however, resumed on January 4, while schools in Edo and Anambra states will resume February, report stated.

The Lagos State Government had affirmed its earlier pronouncement that all public and private schools in the state below tertiary level should resume Monday.

Mrs. Folashade Adefisayo, Honourable Commissioner for Education, in a statement Friday urged students and staff members to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines on school resumption.

Likewise, Prof. Abayomi Arigbabu, Honourable Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, in Ogun State, Friday directed all primary, secondary as well as government science and technical colleges to resume academic activities on Monday.

The Commissioner appealed to parents, guardians, teachers, school administrators and other stakeholders to ensure full compliance with all coronavirus protocols

The Ebonyi State Government also disclosed that it would deploy two nurses in each public school ahead of today’s resumption to curb the spread of the second wave of the disruptive COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr. Francis Elechi, Chairman of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Ebonyi State Chapter, who told the News Agency of Nigeria, explained that the nurses would assist the teachers, who had been trained on the preventive measures against the second wave of COVID-19.

Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State has also, approved the resumption of all schools in the state with effect from January 18.

Hajiya Fatu Sabo, Honourable Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, in a statement said the ministry had put machinery in motion to ensure maximum compliance with the COVID-19 safety protocols.

Report indicates that in Kwara State, schools will resume for the second term Monday, according to the state government.

Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, Permanent Secretary in the state’s Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development, revealed this Thursday, January 14.

Some of the higher institutions expected to resume today are the Federal University of Technology, Akure; Federal University, Dutsin-ma, Katsina State; Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State; Tai Solarin University of Education, Ogun State; and the Federal Polytechnic, Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital.

Nonetheless, the Edo State Government Sunday clarified that the suspension of schools’ resumption applied to all educational institutions in the state.

Osarodion Ogie, Secretary to the State Government (SSG), who disclosed this in a statement, said that the directive would be reviewed February 1, 2021, when the outcome of efforts at checking the spread of COVID-19 in the state would be evaluated.

The government stated: “The Edo State Government hereby announces that the suspension of schools’ resumption is applicable to all educational institutions in Edo State, from pre-school up to tertiary institutions.”

ConsumerConnect reports that the Nigerian House of Representatives had stated that schools in the country are not ready for the planned resumption January 18, as planned by the Federal Government.

Professor Julius O. Ihonvbere, Chairman, House Committee on Basic Education and Services, disclosed this in a statement January 16, 2021.

The committee, therefore, called on Federal Government to extend the planned resumption of schools by three months until proper measures are put in place to tackle the spread of COVID-19 when the students resume.

The Senator said: “There is need for the postponement to enable local and state government to put things properly in place.

“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.

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

The Federal legislators contended that apart from Lagos and a couple of other states, “governments are unable to enforce COVID-19 protocols. People no longer wear facemasks or use sanitisers.

“Public enlightenment campaigns have more or less stopped. Merely saying they would adhere to the protocols is no guarantee. In the rural areas, the situation is worse.

“Our position is that in spite of the very comprehensive protocols established by the Federal Ministry of Education, not up to 10 percent of our educational institutions have implemented five percent of the protocols.

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