Nigeria Union of Teachers and Presidential Task force on COVID-19 yesterday expressed anxiety as schools across the country reopen today.
The reopening comes after four months of closure following the COVID-19 pandemic. Only students in exit classes are, however, allowed to resume to prepare for their terminal examinations.
The teachers said they were afraid measures put in place by federal and state governments were not enough to keep staff and children safe.
While the National President of Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), Dr. Nasir Idris, expressed teachers’ worry in an interview with The Guardian yesterday in Abuja,
Chairman of PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, conveyed the task force’s uneasiness during its daily briefing in Abuja.
The NUT president warned that the union would withdraw its services if government failed to put in place measures in compliance with the recommendations of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
“If the government refuses to put COVID-19 protocols in place, we will have no other option but to meet with our members and withdraw our services because the pandemic is increasing day by day. We will take stock state by state and ensure that in any place they have not provided the COVID-19 protocols, we will withdraw our service
“The NUT was not in support of reopening of schools at the initial stage, because majority of Nigerians were not complying with the guidelines by NCDC, the Federal Ministry of Health and the Presidential Task Force.”
The NUT chairman said the union was also concerned about students spreading the virus at school.
“Primary and secondary school students are very young people; they will be more vulnerable. Besides, by the time they see their classmates after these four months, some of them will forget about the issue of washing of hands, using hand sanitisers and face masks. They will continue to hug themselves and, at the end of the day, many will be infected.”
“If the Federal Government said it would provide the needful, it also needs to compel state governments to provide the needful. They should ensure COVID-19 protocols are provided in both urban and rural areas.
‘We urge Federal Government not to only provide the needful for unity schools because the bulk of the population of students are in states and local governments. About 95 percent of schools are in states.”
Boss Mustapha said reopening of the education sector was a source of concern, based on the fact that the school system remained a fertile ground for community transmission, if appropriate protocols were not put in place.