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‘Why reopening of schools now is premature’

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The Anap Foundation COVID-19 Think Tank has expressed concern over the proposal by the Federal Government to reopen schools for graduating students. Recently, the Federal Government had, through the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF), approved new guidelines to fight the spread of the virus while easing up some sectors for gradual resumption of socio-economic activities in the country.

But in a statement yesterday signed by the chairman and vice-chairman, Atedo Peterside and Abubakar Siddique Mohammed, the foundation said: “The science and data reveal that the pandemic is currently at the community transmission phase and is still approaching its peak. Having school children from different homes gather in enclosed classrooms and interacting closely for long hours at this stage of our epidemic will, in our opinion, portend great danger for the pupils, their teachers and their immediate families.

“Though the PTF has specified appropriate protocols as safeguards, we are aware that most schools, especially the public ones, will not have the required resources to put these in place, nor the wherewithal to moderate children’s behaviour.

“We therefore appeal to the government and all stakeholders involved, to exercise caution and follow the science of the disease as established, to avoid exposing the population to large-scale COVID-19 infections; let us not find ourselves in the situation of countries like Israel and South Africa that have had to reverse their premature school reopening, due to severe spikes in infection amongst the pupils, staff and their families.”

The think thank advised that opening of schools be delayed for a few more weeks to see the nation’s COVID-19 epidemic peak and begin to reverse, before embarking on any school reopening plans, even for graduating classes.

“This is current global best practice. It is our belief that graduating students can still get back on track with their future careers by taking their examinations just ahead of general school reopening, when the epidemic curve might have flattened, and it is much safer to resume classes.”

The think thank, however, commended the government for lifting the ban on interstate travel which it alleged had been observed more in the breach, giving way to preferential treatment of travellers and malpractice in its enforcement.

“We also welcome the proposed resumption of air travel as this will be based on well-established international protocols which make air travel relatively safe.”


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