School resumption: Nigerians score FG low on Covid-19 protocol
Despite assurances by the ministry of education that adequate measures will be put in place to ensure the safety of students in schools across the country, some Nigerians still are not confident that the necessary precautions have been taken to contain the spread of COVID-19 especially as fears of a second wave of the virus rages.
It is quite unfortunate that the Nigerian government makes it difficult to sustain policies that will ensure the good health of its citizens, and because it is government that regulates most activities of the people, the citizens always wait for government to initiate the process then they would follow. So it was wrong for government to have changed the resumption date from 4th January 2021, due to the pandemic and then change the date again 2 weeks later and they expect Nigerians to see them as doing the right thing.
What I expected government to have done is to send officials to assess the level of preparedness in schools across the country and ensure that the basic structures like hand washing points are readily available for students to use and wash to avoid the spread of the virus amongst children and young adults who are majorly persons within the academic space.
But beyond the regular hand washing and wearing of face mask, one will expect that agencies like the National Orientation Agency, and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency and even the NCDC will embark on rigorous campaign and sensitization targeted at children to enlighten them on how to approach the new normal they will find themselves in school.
In my school, government actually brought some plastic chairs and tables so that the children can sit individually, but that alone is not enough. This is a global health crises and there has to be accountability and sincerity in all that we do. For instance, we haven’t seen the facemask that the government said they produced. We have not seen any hand sanitizer and even the fumigation they were supposed to do across schools in Benue state we have not seen anything in my school. The only thing I saw which looks like preparation was the chairs which they brought about 450 pieces which isn’t even enough for the student population.
Beyond the additional chairs, government also needs to improve on the available infrastructure in school they should build more classroom structures. In a class you have three arms with 150 students and the classes can only take 40 to 45 chairs. Where will the others go? So we need more classroom blocks so we can actually space the students to ensure physical distancing and the students’ comfort.
Here in Benue state, I would say government is not properly prepared for this resumption. This can be seen in their uncertainty that surrounded the resumption date even after it was announced they were still contemplating the shifting the date which they fixed themselves which is a clear sign that they were not ready for students to resume.
A man that his house is well equipped will be confident and sure that he is safe and ready. But that one who knows he is not ready is always uncertain of what to do.
Actually before we left school, the hostels as well as lecture halls were congested and as we speak now, school has resumed and no new infrastructure was put on ground to address the shortages we complained about before the compulsory break. Everything is still as it was, nothing has changed. It is really unsafe for student to learn in this kind of atmosphere because we will be cramped up in lecture halls and hostels despite the campaign for physical distancing.
Most vice chancellors fumigated their schools like in my school but I can't say the government even went there to check or supervise that it was done properly. That is bad.
There is no evidence on the part of government to show that they are prepared for school resumption. For instance, the necessary medical kits that are supposed to be positioned in government schools for the prevention of the Covid-19 are not in place. The only thing I see in places like the Benue State University, which they made mandatory, is the wearing of mask which is only one step in avoiding the spread of the virus.
What about things like washing hand point, soap and sanitizers? In my own opinion the government didn't make the necessary preparations for the resumption of schools.
The government should have trained some individuals to carryout sensitizing on the university campus concerning the safety protocols on return. Students and staff of the university on resumption should be given this orientation before being allowed into the university.
Secondly, the ICT department would have been used to send individual emails to the student and staff, telling them of the necessary steps to take in order to prevent the spread of the virus while resuming school.
Thirdly, sensitive areas around the schools like school gates, class room, hostels, cafeteria, labor markets among other areas should have handwashing buckets and sanitizers in order to prevent the spread of the disease. But I haven't seen any of these.
Government is doing well with the management of COVID-19 and that is why we have been able to manage the spread better than most countries we thought would have done better.
The reopening the schools is a good one, but parents must understand that the bulk of the work lies with them. They need to prepare their children properly for learning in the school environment during this COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that they do not fall victim because if their children bring the virus home, it would spread within the family like wild fire. Parents should support government’s effort by educating their children on how to stay safe and learn amidst the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic.
Parents and school authorities should take responsibility to ensure that the virus does not spread in the academic environment, while government ensures that medical facilities are readily available in case of emergencies.
On the whole, government has properly handled the issue of coronavirus, but I also think they need to extend the successes being achieved in the management of COVID-19 to proper governance.
For me the government is just gambling with the lives of the kids. How do you justify asking schools to resume yet asking civil servants from levels 12 below to stay at home? Are you saying the children can better protect themselves than the workers?
On the level of preparation of schools, I think even though some private schools seem prepared with solid COVID-19 non-pharmaceutical procedures, the same cannot be said of public schools.
Most public schools have no running water and no isolation room or clinic. Even the kids do not know how to use facemask properly hence their inability to effectively protect themselves. This will in turn lead to kids bringing home the virus to infect their aged parents.
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