The House of Representatives has moved against the Federal Government’s directive that schools should resume on Monday, January 18, despite the rising cases of the coronavirus disease.
The lower house, while expressing its concern, wondered why schools were closed when the infection rates were around 500 and below, but now that it hovers well above 1000 infections daily, schools are being reopened.
This disclosure is contained in a statement titled, “School Resumption: Are We Truly Prepared?” which was issued by the Chairman, House Committee on Basic Education and Services, Prof. Julius Ihonvbere, on Saturday, January 16, 2021.
Ihonvbere in his statement said that public enlightenment campaigns have more or less stopped, as merely saying that protocol would be adhered to is no guarantee with the situation even being worse in rural areas.
The house, therefore, demanded for the postponement of resumption of schools by 3 months, if some critical steps are not taken, so as to enable the local and state governments put things in place adequately.
He said that apart from Lagos and a couple of other states, governments have been unable to enforce Covid-19 protocols with people no longer wearing facemasks or use sanitisers, especially in secondary schools. There are no facilities for effective social distancing in the classrooms.
Ihonvbere said they have not heard how the schools would address the issues of introduction of morning and afternoon batches into the schools when they reopen to reduce overcrowding, special cleaning crews with sufficient sanitisers in classrooms, insisting on facemasks and sanitisers for the students and others.
What Prof. Ihonvbere is saying
The statement from the House partly reads,
- “The Committee on Basic Education and Services, House of Representatives, has received with concern the decision of the Federal Government to reopen schools on January 18, 2021.
- “We are particularly concerned that when the infection rates hovered around 500 and under, schools were closed; but now that it hovers well above 1,000 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?
- “Similarly, we acknowledge the argument that most young persons have not been as affected by Covid-19 and many are asymptomatic. Yet, it does not mean they have full immunity against the virus. We also know that they would be working and interacting with adult teachers, administrative workers and other persons that do not live within the institutions.
- ‘’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 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 per cent of our educational institutions have implemented five per cent of the protocols. In most of our primary and secondary schools nationwide, adequate furniture, water and other sanitation and hygiene facilities do not exist.
- “As a government that has committed to protecting the interests of the Nigerian people, it would be wrong to allow unprepared state governments, of which many did not take the pandemic too seriously anyway, to hoodwink or pressure it into this reopening game.
- “The Committee believes that if these and other critical steps are not taken, there should be a postponement by three months to enable the local and state governments put things in place adequately. A word, they say, is enough for the wise.’’
What you should know
- The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19, a few days ago, insisted on the January 18 resumption date for schools until the Federal Ministry of Education advises otherwise.
- The clarification became necessary following the earlier comment by the Minister for Education, Adamu Adamu, that government may review the resumption date following the outbreak of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic across the country.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES COMMITTEE ON BASIC EDUCATION AND SERVICES, ABUJA.
SCHOOL RESUMPTION: ARE WE TRULY PREPARED?
The Committee on Basic Education and Services, House of Representatives has received with some concern the decision of the Federal Government to reopen schools pic.twitter.com/wehOd7QoXG
— Hon. Prof. Julius Ihonvbere,OON (@HonIhonvbere) January 16, 2021