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COVID-19: Reopening schools now is premature, ANAP warns

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COVID-19: Reopening schools now is premature, ANAP warnsols

The Anap Foundation COVID-19 Think Tank has warned that reopening of schools in the height of COVID-19 spread is premature.

This is on the heels of the recent approval by the through the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF) to allow the gradual reopening of schools starting with graduating classes.

Commending the Federal Government for lifting the ban on interstate travels, Anap Think Tank stated that the interstate travel “Had been observed more in its breach, giving way to preferential treatment of travellers and a high level of malpractice in its enforcement.”

In a statement made available to Vanguard and signed by its Chairman, Atedo N. A. Peterside and the Vice-Chairman, Abubakar Siddique Mohammed, Anap explained that “Though the PTF has specified appropriate protocols as safeguards, we are aware that most schools, especially the public ones, will not have the required resources to put these in place, nor the wherewithal to moderate children’s behaviour.”

The statement reads: “The Anap Foundation COVID-19 Think Tank* (the Anap Think Tank) has followed with keen interest the recent approval by the Federal Government, through the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF), of new guidelines to fight the spread of the pandemic while easing up some sectors in order to gradually resume socio-economic activities in the country.

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“The Anap Think Tank highly commends the government for lifting the ban on interstate travel which had been observed more in its breach, giving way to preferential treatment of travellers and a high level of malpractice in its enforcement. We also welcome the proposed resumption of air travel as this will be based on well-established international protocols which make air travel relatively safe.

“The Anap Think Tank, however, views with great concern the proposal to reopen schools for graduating students. The science and data reveal that the pandemic is currently at the community transmission phase and is still approaching its peak. Having school children from different homes gather in enclosed classrooms and interacting closely for long hours at this stage of our epidemic will, in our opinion, portend great danger for the pupils, their teachers and their immediate families.

“Though the PTF has specified appropriate protocols as safeguards, we are aware that most schools, especially the public ones, will not have the required resources to put these in place, nor the wherewithal to moderate children’s behaviour.

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“We, therefore, appeal to the government and all stakeholders involved, to exercise caution and follow the science of the disease as established, to avoid exposing the population to large-scale COVID-19 infections; let us not find ourselves in the situation of countries like Israel and South Africa that have had to reverse their premature school reopening, due to severe spikes in infection amongst the pupils, staff and their families.

“We urge that opening of schools be delayed for a few more weeks to see our Covid-19 epidemic peak and begin to reverse, before embarking on any school reopening plans, even for graduating classes. This is the current global best practice.

“It is our belief that graduating students can still get back on track with their future careers by taking their examinations just ahead of general school reopening, when the epidemic curve might have flattened, and it is much safer to resume classes.”

Vanguard

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