The NMA President, Professor Innocent Ujah, stated this in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents while commenting on government’s decision to reopen schools beginning from Monday (today).
Ujah stated that although the association would not advise government not to reopen schools, he stated that authorities must ensure compliance with COVID-19 guidelines of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
The experts spoke as coronavirus cases in the country rose from 75,062 on December 17, 2020 to 108,943 on Sunday, January 17, 2021.
Also during the same period, COVID-19 deaths increased from 1,200 to 1,420, an increase of 220.
Advising government on the rising cases, the NMA president stated, “What we are saying is that for schools to reopen, authorities must be prepared. We don’t know how long COVID-19 will last for us to say schools should not reopen.
“But what we are saying is that they (school authorities) must prepare to comply with the NCDC protocols of hand washing at several points not just one point.
“In the universities where we have a large number of people in faculties and departments, there must be points for hand washing and sanitizers. The issue of face mask is a must and social distancing in the classrooms is also important.”
He suggested that lectures should conducted online, adding, “Once we comply with these protocols, I believe they will reduce the spread.”
While stating that the association had earlier advised Federal Government not to deploy people for the National Youth Service Corps, Ujah, who is also Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Health Sciences, Otukpo, Benue State, said that the NMA would continue to advise authorities.
He stated, “The NMA said that the NYSC should not deploy corps member for now. We don’t know what government will do, but we have to advise that authorities must listen to experts. That is one way of making progress, therefore reducing infections.”
Saturday PUNCH had reported that the Federal Government shunned a recommendation by the Economic Sustainability Committee led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and decided to re-open orientation camps nationwide on Tuesday amid rising COVID-19 infections.
According to the report, the Osinbajo-led committee had in June 2020 recommended that while the NYSC programme could continue, the three-week orientation exercise should be suspended for two years.
Schools resume in Lagos, Ogun, others
Meanwhile, nursery, primary and secondary schools in states including Lagos, Ogun, Ogun, Ebonyi and Nasarawa will today resume academic activities for the second term of the 2020/21 academic year.
Some higher institutions, both federal and states, had also signified their intention to resume academic activities today.
Resumption at basic schools was delayed in many states following the second wave of COVID-19 as well as the advice by the NCDC.
Schools in Oyo State, however, resumed on January 4, while schools in Edo and Anambra states will resume in February.
The Lagos State Government, in a statement on Friday, affirmed its earlier pronouncement that all public and private schools in the state below tertiary level should resume on Monday (today).
In the statement, the state Commissioner for Education, Mrs Folashade Adefisayo, urged students and staff members to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines.
Also, the Ogun State Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Prof. Abayomi Arigbabu, had on Friday directed all primary, secondary as well as government science and technical colleges to resume academic activities on Monday.
Arigbabu appealed to parents, guardians, teachers, school administrators and other stakeholders to ensure full compliance with all coronavirus protocols
Also, the Ebonyi State Government will deploy two nurses in each public school ahead of today’s resumption to stem the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic.
The Chairman of the state chapter of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, Mr Francis Elechi, who disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria, explained that the nurses would assist the teachers, who had been trained on the preventive measures against the second wave of COVID-19.
Similarly in Nasarawa State, Governor Abdullahi Sule approved the resumption of all schools in the state with effect from today.
The Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Hajiya Fatu Sabo, in a statement said the ministry had put machinery in motion to ensure maximum compliance with the COVID-19 safety protocols.
In Kwara State, schools will resume for the second term today, according to the state government.
The Permanent Secretary in the state’s Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, made this known on Thursday.
The Ekiti State government has also warned private school proprietors against contravening the January 18 resumption date.
The Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Dr Bimpe Aderiye, has in a statement said the January 18 resumption would be enforced.
Some of the higher institutions expected to resume today are the Federal University of Technology, Akure; Federal University, Dutsin-ma, Katsina State; Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State; Tai Solarin University of Education, Ogun State; and the Federal Polytechnic, Ado-Ekiti.
Similarly, the Yusuf Maitama Sule University, Kano has set Monday, January 18, 2021, as the resumption date for continuation of 2019/2020 Academic Session.
A statement by the Head, Information, Publications and Public Relations Unit of the university, Abdullahi Hassan, on Sunday read partly, ‘’The resolution is in line with the directive of the Kano State Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje, for reopening of all tertiary institutions in the state effective from Monday, January 18, 2021.”
Resumption suspension for all institutions– Edo
Meanwhile, the Edo State Government on Sunday clarified that the suspension of schools’ resumption applied to all educational institutions in the state.
The Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie, who disclosed this in a statement, noted that the directive would be reviewed on February 1, 2021, when the outcome of efforts to check the spread of COVID-19 in the state would be evaluated.
“The Edo State Government hereby announces that the suspension of schools’ resumption is applicable to all educational institutions in Edo State, from pre-school up to tertiary institutions,” the statement reads partly.
In a related development, the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, said the government had built capacity to conduct 600 COVID-19 tests daily.
In a statement, the governor said, “In our COVID-19 response, we provided funding and platform for the set up of three additional Real Time-PCR Molecular Reference Laboratory in Edo State, with a daily testing capacity of 600 test per day at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Edo Specialist Hospital and Lily Hospital.”
“There is also a massive procurement of laboratory commodities, personal protective equipment, ventilators, dialysis machines, PCR reagents and vehicles essential for supporting COVID-19 response in Edo State.”
Ekiti orders schools reopening, relaxes curfew
Ekiti State Government has ordered public and private schools in the state to re-open for the Second Term of the 2020/21 session from Monday 18 January, 2021.
Information Commissioner, Adebowale Omole, in a statement on Sunday urged school administrators and teachers “to use infrared thermometers to monitor temperature of everybody in their respective schools. Government will not hesitate to close down any private or public school with problems.”
The state government, according to the statement, also ordered that the curfew imposed on the state which erstwhile held from 8pm to 6am to now hold between 10pm and 6am.