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School resumption in Nigeria raises concern and fear over Covid-19 spread

Teachers and parents in Lagos have expressed their concerns over the resumption of primary and secondary schools scheduled for 21 September as they are afraid such a move could lead to an uncontrollable spread of the virus in schools.

Lagos (Nigeria), 26/08/2020.- Babs Fafunwa Millennium Senior Secondary students wash their hands in a basin as they resume to write the West African Examination Council (WAEC) examination in Ojodu district in Lagos, Nigeria 26 August 2020. Earlier this mo

Authorities in Lagos have scheduled the resumption of primary and secondary schools for 21 September, which has prompted concerns among teachers and parents that the decision could trigger an uncontrollable flow of new Coronavirus infections among students and staff.

Several organisations from the education sector, including the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS) and the National Association of the Parent-Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN), have expressed their doubts over resuming schools too early.

Since students preparing for West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) have already occupied almost all seats in classrooms, teachers and parents have raised questions about where the rest of students will be seated when they return.

ASUSS President, Kassim Labaika, gave examples of state-owned schools where most classes were occupied by (WASSCE) students. He also mentioned that the finalisation of the exam won't change the situation as preparation for another exam, the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), will then begin. 

He also added that only a select few parents could afford the cost of their children participating in the online learning scheme set out by the government.

Nigeria school resumption: medical experts divided

Medical experts' take on the resumption has varied, with some -- like Dr. Ugochukwu Chukwuney, Medical Director at Optimal Specialist Hospital in Surulere, Lagos -- believing that now is not the right time for students to return to schools as the pandemic situation has yet to be brought under total control.

Although, Dr. Chukwuney advised that if schools are to reopen, awareness must be raised  on the nature of the infection, available treatments, and preventive measures that should be taken.

“Much is now known about the Covid-19 pandemic. The disease occurrence has reached a stable state and is maybe on the decline in most states. Effective preventive measures are known,” he noted.


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