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Pupils high on coronavirus awareness, low on preventive measures

By Isaac Taiwo, Kehinde Olatunji, Yetunde Jeariogbe and Victoria Adenekan
09 March 2020   |   4:17 am
Despite the ravaging effects of the dreaded coronavirus scourge sweeping across many countries, many pupils in government-owned schools in Lagos State have not been provided with the necessary health...

Pupils washing their hands during a sensitization campaign by WASH committee of Rotary International in Lagos

Rotary takes gospel of hand washing to Lagos, Ogun schools
Despite the ravaging effects of the dreaded coronavirus scourge sweeping across many countries, many pupils in government-owned schools in Lagos State have not been provided with the necessary health and safety kits and tips against the spread of the disease.

While the awareness on some of the safety tips as prescribed by the Ministry of Health is high, The Guardian findings revealed that there was high consciousness about the disease but little and poor precautionary measures in many of the schools visited, especially the public schools.

Some of safety tips include regular washing of hands, usage of sanitisers in homes, workplaces and other public places, staying three metres away from anyone coughing, avoiding non-essential visits to hospitals, and maintaining personal hygiene among others.

Even though the Lagos State office of Education Quality Assurances (OEQA) had urged Head of Schools and Administrators to promote hand washing culture and provide hand sanitisers for students, it was observed that many government schools in Lagos is yet to take action on this directive, as some even do not have a potable water system for hand washing.

Some of the schools include: Falomo Senior High School, Government Senior College, Akande Dahunsi memorial senior and Junior high schools, Falomo Junior High School, CMS Girls Senior Grammar School and Kosofe Junior College among others.

One of the students, Rasak Aishat of Akande Dahunsi Memorial Junior High School, Ikoyi, said: “Though we are aware about the coronavirus, our school has not provided hand sanitisers for students and I think this is wrong. The government should assist our school. On the internet, we have been hearing a lot about the disease, which has killed so many people. I believe hand sanitisers kill 99 per cent of germs. We will appreciate it if this is provided for students as children are more exposed to diseases.”

Also, Perry Emmanuella from CMS Girls School at Akoka, Bariga, stated that the outbreak of Covid-19 calls for worries in schools. “The alarming rate of the spread of Covid 19 is what every school should be concerned about. There is need for hand sanitisers and other preventive measures for students. But the prices of these important items are rather outrageous and as such our parents are unable to purchase them. On behalf of my school, I plead for the provision of hand sanitisers since our school taps are not running for us to regularly wash our hands.”

Also, Oke Samuel of Kosofe Junior School, Adokwu Blessing of Government Senior College, Maroko, and Omozokpia Angel of Falomo Senior High School urged the government to assist their schools in providing hand sanitisers for the students.

However, when our reporter spoke with the above schools’ representatives, they denied the students’ claims. Mrs. Arobasalu, a teacher in Mafoluku grammar school, Oshodi said they ensure the students wash their hands before and after assembly. “They are taught this precautionary measures on the assembly and they are asked to pass it on to everyone at home.

“Sick students are not allowed into the school; we use thermometer guns, any student with high temperature or has any sign of sickness will be advised to go to the hospital; they are returned at the gate. We urge parents to also play their role at home and make sure their wards do not go to school sick.”

Mrs. Ajani Kinki, the head teacher of Mazim Nursery and Primary school, Ilasa, said: “Since the resumption of pupils last Monday following the report of the outbreak, the school had provided bucket of water, sanitizer, tissue and gel for regular hand washing.

“They wash their hand before coming into the school premises; they wash their hands before and after assembly. We also monitor them by washing their hands after toilet use. We watch them by washing their hands whenever their hands are place on a dirty surface and make sure their hands are wiped with tissue and disposed off properly. We don’t use napkin in other to prevent transmission,” she said.

Meanwhile, with a view to reducing the risk of the spread of coronavirus among students, a sensitization programme, which included talks and practical demonstration on how to prevent and combat the virus titled: ‘Wash’ held on Thursday at Rotary Centre with 17 schools in attendance.

Past District Governor, Dr. Deinde Shoga, first addressed the students on the danger of Lassa fever and how to prevent same. Dr. Femi Oloyede, member of Rotary Club of Ewutuntun, who addressed the students on preventing the scourge of coronavirus, disclosed that the virus could easily spread through crowded environment such as having many pupils in a classroom, a practice that is prevalent in some public and private schools.

“Students who study under this condition can easily carry the virus to their homes and this is the reason we are drumming this message that it is essential to teach the students on how to improve on their personal hygiene practices, hand-washing in particular in all schools.

“We believe that if this culture is cultivated, we would be able to reduce the risk of children being carriers of the virus to their homes and the more the schools get it right, the better, otherwise, efforts of stakeholders would be meaningless” he said.

The District Governor, Rotary International, District 9110, Dr. Jide Akeredolu, said the programme organized by “Water and Sanitation Committee of the District takes place every year, aimed at ensuring people know the importance of regular hand washing and also make it a habit.

Chairman, Water and Sanitation Committee, District 9110, Rtn. Samson Okenyi, said the idea behind inviting schools from Lagos and Ogun States was to train them on hand washing and sanitizing their hands.