By Egufe Yafugborhi
Paediatric Association of Nigeria (PAN) on Wednesday pulled weight behind Federal Government (FG) restraint in reopening schools, especially at basic studies level, saying the action “is worth the wait.”
Professor Edward Alikor, President, PAN, in the professional body’s position released in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, said an appraisal of global trends in the hard fight against the pandemic and the negative experiences among nations that have attempted school reopening makes FG’s restraint a wise choice.
PAN noted that “As a professional association that actively seek the well-being of children and ensure that their right to quality health care is protected, we support continued closure of Nigerian schools and urge that the schools remain closed until conditions are safe.
The minimum consideration for reopening of schools in Nigeria should be steady, a consistent decline in spread of COVID-19 in most parts of the country. It is then and only then we believe that other criteria laid down by the Guidelines for Schools and Learning Facilities Reopening after Covid-19 pandemic closures can now be considered.
“We observe, with surprise, the absence of public health physicians, infectious disease experts and other child and adolescent healthcare specialists amongst stakeholders listed as having been consulted in arriving at the decision to possibly reopen schools in September 2020.
“We urge that this error be corrected to enable the decision-makers to arrive at a fact-oriented, balanced and independent decision on such important issue bordering on the health of our children. To a large extent, the safest place for children at this time is at home under the care of parents.
“Many parents now have to undertake the extra duty of controlling, protecting and (in some cases) supervising academic work of the children, duties which have traditionally been shared with teachers and school administrators.
“PAN encourages these and would want parents to regard their sacrifices, not just as a duty to their families, but as a national duty at this time of war with Coronavirus.”