Stakeholders in the educator sector have expressed concern over the readiness of government towards the safety of students as schools reopen for essential classes, urging that government must ensure strict compliance and monitoring in line with safety measures put in place.
They clamoured for a high level of protection and called for continuous efforts to sustain the safety measures, saying that, if any student gets invested in any school, the school is doom as the stigma could stain the reputation of the school for a long time.
The stakeholders including school owners, teachers, educationists, health and safety experts and parents made their observations known during a virtual meeting titled Ready or Not? Nigeria’s Post Covid Schools Reopening organized by an advocacy group, Advocacy Against Negligence in Schools (AANIS) in collaboration with online radio, Spirit of Nigeria Radio (SNR) recently.
In her welcome address, the Co-Founder of AANIS, Mrs. Idy Toye Arulogun explained that the meeting was organized to discuss the safety and general plan for students and teachers as schools reopen, stressing that AANIS is concerned about the safety in schools.
Speaking, the CEO of Edumark Consult, Mrs. Yinka Ogunde, advocated for caution, urging that government needs to vigilant and ensures proper monitoring of the safety measures put in place.
According to her, “government needs to strategise for education in Nigeria. During the first week of resumption, I am optimistic every school will follow the Covid protocols but after then, schools will relax. This is why we need monitoring and we should be vigilant. We should not do what will make Covid increase.”
The Proprietor of Dansol High School Lagos, Mrs. Adun Akinyemiju commended AAINIS for the programme, saying that the safety of students and teachers should not be taken for granted.
In her own submission, a school owner and Secretary to Lagos State NAPPS (National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools) Elders Forum, Mrs. Temitope Odutola expressed apprehension about the safety of students and teachers, saying, “I feel apprehension. As a school owner, I am worried about the safety of our teachers and students.
“When the school was closed in March, we had less than 40 Covid cases but now, we have over 40,000 Covid cases. We must ensure a high level of protection in our schools.Students in private school can maintain social distance, what about students in public school. This is why government needs to ensure compliance with safety measures put in place, ” Mrs. Odutola added.
An Occupational and Safety Expert, Mr. Ehi Iden disclosed that there was a growing infection rate among children according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) reports, appealing that government should not be too fast to reopen schools.
According to Iden, “How can a child comply with physical distancing? We know this will be difficult. I do not think it is safe to open school. We need to restrategise and plan for virtual study. This is the new order we have to live with.”
The Lagos State Commissioner of Education, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo revealed that the state government had set up an inter-ministerial monitoring and compliance team having representatives from the Ministry of Health and Education, Safety Commission and other stakeholders to ensure that schools comply with Covid 19 protocols and safety measures.
She assured that Lagos State Government would get all schools into the safety net, saying that all hands are on deck to ensure Covid protocols are followed and no student or teacher is put at risk.
She said, “Re-opening school is not a decision taking slightly. Covid is not going away so soon, we should plan to live with it and the decision to open school was not an easy one. After school reopens, we will not have the total population of students and classes have been arranged in compliance with Covid 19 protocols. We have no plan of asking the Primary 6 and JSS 3 students to come back to school in Lagos for now.
“We are going to use the same rules for both public and private schools and we have done a checklist for schools as a means of documentation for government to know the readiness of schools. Also, all classes in schools will be used for SS3 students to ensure physical distancing.
“Lagos state has trained teams to ensure compliance with Covid protocols in schools. These teams comprise experts including representatives of the Ministry of Health and education, safety commission and other stakeholders. We are not taking this lightly. If anything happens, there would be a serious problem for the country. We are not taking it with levity, this issue concern life and well – being of the people. It concerns our reputation and we are taking it seriously,” Mrs. Adefisayo explained.
While speaking, the Chairman, National Union of Teachers, Lagos State Chapter, Comrade Adedoyin Adesina, who expressed concern with the reopening of school, commended the Lagos State Government on the precautionary measures put in place for teachers and students, imploring the state government to extend the allowances given to health workers to teachers as they are now front line workers.
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