The Committee on Basic Education and Services, House of Representatives has expressed concerns over the Federal Government’s decision to reopen schools on January 18, 2021.
The Committee, in a statement issued on Saturday, wondered how schools can be closed when the nation’s infection rates were around 500, and now reopened when they are above 1000 daily.
“Why are we rushing to reopen schools without adequate verifiable and sustainable arrangements to protect and secure our children? the Reps queried.
“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.”
The Reps noted that aside Lagos and a couple of other states, Governments are unable to enforce COVID-19 protocols.
“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.”
The Committee challenged the Federal Ministry of Education to first, independently monitor the extent of basic compliance with established protocols in all schools and not just take words of State and Local authorities as given.
“The lives of our children are worth much more than the interests and comfort of any politician or bureaucrat. It is only after a minimum 75% nationwide compliance that we can seriously talk about reopening schools.
“Given that in primary and secondary schools in particular, there are no facilities for effective social distancing in the classrooms, part of the compliance requirements must be the introduction of morning and afternoon batches into the schools when they reopen to reduce overcrowding.
“Special cleaning crews with sufficient sanitisers must be deployed to the classrooms before and after each stream. Hand washing before entering the classroom and use of sanitiser once seated must be made mandatory.”
The Committee further asked the Federal Government to suspend the school feeding programme and
replace it with sealable snacks that should be distributed when classes are over.
The Committee believed 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.