KanyiDaily recalls that last week, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 insisted that the date for school resumption remains Monday, January 18, 2021.
The Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, said after consultations with relevant stakeholders, it was agreed that public and private schools across the country should reopen on Monday.
However, in a telephone interview with Punch, the chairman of the house committee, Julius Ihonvbere said the federal government did not consult the lawmakers before arriving at the January 18 resumption date.
He said: “They did not consult us; at least in my committee, nobody from the ministry spoke to me. I have been in Abuja. And I am not sure that they spoke to any of my members. They just don’t see us as part of the critical stakeholders.”
In a follow-up statement titled, “School Resumption: Are we truly prepared”, Ihonvbere said the resumption of schools should be postponed by three months, so as to enable the necessary safety measures to be put in place with compliance to COVID-19 protocols.
The Committee on Basic Education and Services, House of Representatives, has received with concern the decision of the Federal Government to reopen schools on January 18, 2021.
“We are particularly concerned that when the infection rates hovered around 500 and under, schools were closed; but now that it hovers well above 1,000 infections daily, schools are being reopened. Why are we rushing to reopen schools without adequate verifiable and sustainable arrangements to protect and secure our children?
“Similarly, 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.
‘’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.
“Our position is that in spite of the very comprehensive protocols established by the Federal Ministry of Education, not up to 10 per cent of our educational institutions have implemented five per cent of the protocols. In most of our primary and secondary schools nationwide, adequate furniture, water and other sanitation and hygiene facilities do not exist.
“As a government that has committed to protecting the interests of the Nigerian people, it would be wrong to allow unprepared state governments, of which many did not take the pandemic too seriously anyway, to hoodwink or pressure it into this reopening game.
“The Committee believes 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. A word, they say, is enough for the wise,” the statement reads.
KanyiDaily recalls that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) had also expressed concerns over the planned resumption of academic activities, saying the institutions were not ready for safe reopening.