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Group advocates phased resumption of schools

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Network for Democracy and Development (NDD) has warned against the resumption of academic activities across the country without adequate safety measures to contain the second wave of COVID-19.

The National Coordinator, Tajudeen Alabede, in a virtual press conference of the group yesterday, called for phased resumption.

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Most schools across the country are expected to resume today for academic activities.

The civil society group said it was discomforting that many governments had not gone beyond issuing statements for schools to observe COVID-19 protocols, leaving the hapless students, pupils and staff to their fate, as adequate safety measures were not in place to contain the virus.

He argued that instead of general resumption, there could have been a well-coordinated phased resumption in a way that would prevent overcrowding in the institutions.

“The consequences of poorly-regulated resumption plans amid the rising cases of COVID-19 may be catastrophic.

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“Nigeria has witnessed a devastating impact of the second wave of COVID-19, including the death of some high profile citizens in the past few weeks,” he stated.

According to him, NDD considers this inappropriate, as the primary duty of any government is the security and wellbeing of the citizens.

“It is ironic that while the plan for schools to resume is moving at a high speed, the same governments are vigorously campaigning against large gatherings. That this is taking place against the background of insecurity across the country makes it all the more indefensible.

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“What NDD expects is for the government at all levels to regard COVID-19 as a national emergency, which would demand that affected sectors are provided with all the necessary support they need to cope with the impact of the pandemic.

“In the minimum, the government should consider providing facilities for virtual classes, deploying health and security personnel to schools to handle emergencies, providing hand sanitisers and masks to students and staff, providing kits for compulsory testing of all students and staff, and setting up isolation centres in all councils.”

The group, therefore, called on the government to fashion out “a comprehensive National Homeland Security Strategy to prevent counter-productivity of security outfits created by states and councils.”

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