Nigeria: Group Cautions Nigerian Govt Against Reopening of Schools

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A non-governmental organisation has cautioned the federal government against re-opening of schools even for final year students, while COVID-19 continues to spread.

Anap Foundation in a statement said its advice was necessary to avoid community-level transmission of COVID-19 among pupils and to avoid exposing the population to large-scale Infections.

Schools were shut across Nigeria on March 19 due to the coronavirus outbreak, leaving some school authorities to adopt alternative modes of learning for students at all levels.

However, the federal government on June 29 approved what it called "safe reopening" of schools nationwide.

The government, through the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF) said only students in graduating classes - primary six, JSS 3 and SSS 3 - are allowed to receive classes in preparation for examinations.

Anap Foundation's position

In a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES Sunday night, the chairman of Anap Foundation, Atedo Peterside, and its Vice-Chairman, Abubakar Mohammed, said the science and data of COVID-19 revealed that the pandemic is currently at the community transmission phase and is still approaching its peak.

They said having school children from different homes gather in enclosed classrooms and interacting closely for long hours at this stage portends 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," they said.

They urged the government to delay the opening of schools for a few more weeks to see Nigeria's COVID-19 curve reach its peak and begin to reverse, "before embarking on any school reopening plans, even for graduating classes. This is the current global best practice."

"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," they said.

They said graduating students will 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 Anap Foundation COVID-19 Think Tank was established on March 22 2020, to respond to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 ("COVID-19") pandemic and has 18 members drawn from across the six geopolitical zones and the diaspora (Germany & USA).

PREMIUM TIMES reported how Nigeria's new coronavirus cases increased for six consecutive weeks before reducing last week.

Nigeria has, so far, recorded over 28,000 cases of the virus and over 600 deaths.

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