COVID-19: Before our schools are reopened

It is no more news that since the outbreak and spread of the novel coronavirus across countries of the world, all major activities have been on an abrupt halt without certainty and hope of recovery soon. The economies of many countries are deteriorating into recession even when majority are already affected. Education, politics and even the social order have been paused.

Japan Olympic games 2020, Euro 2020, Nigeria National Sport Festival, Edo 2020 were key sporting events that got suspended and some postponed while a few domestic leagues are just crawling back to their feet with strict measures in place.

With this ever increasing spread and effect on various sectors, many are giving their nods to the reopening of their economies so as to save them from total collapse.

With the resumption of economic activities, many are asking when schools will be reopened. Since the first recorded case in February, learning institutions in Nigeria were some of the sectors forced to an immediate shutdown as a result of the inability to guarantee the safety of learners and their teachers in the wake of the spread of the virus.

Unlike countries that have had their schools reopened such as China, Korea, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Japan et al where the virus spread has been curtailed to a reasonable extent, the virus is still very much active in Nigeria and in many other African countries.

Since the spread of the virus is still very much active here, reopening schools at this time is tantamount to risking the lives of the future of our dear nation.

If we insist on reopening our schools, can we guarantee that social distance will be adhered to in the classrooms or even in hostels where our students are housed? How well will the students be able to cope amongst themselves in the face of this pandemic?

Countries that decided to reopen took their time in considering many factors before the order was given. Germany, for example, gave its students proper orientation before its declaration, with continuous disinfecting of hands and surfaces within the schools.

In China’s Beijing, a survey was carried out using a phone app to calculate risk of infection and some students were given personal thermometers to check their temperature twice a day.

Reasonably, a developing country like ours cannot do all of these even when it is still battling with the process of testing its citizens. Our testing capacity is still very low compared to the over 170 million population spread across the nook and cranny of the country with many still carrying the virus around.

Opening schools at this time might pave way for a second wave of the virus even when we are still completely locked up in the first wave. South Korea which gave the go ahead was forced to shut the schools few days after reopening them following a spike in its cases. Our future should be secured. We cannot afford to do this at the moment.

Use of mainstream social media should be adequately and continuously harnessed for learning without limiting it to the younger folks but an inclusion of all levels of learning.

Shotonwa Waheed,




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