The Vice-Chancellor of Chrisland University, a private university in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Prof. Chinedum Babalola, has called on the Federal Government to adopt “staggered” reopening of schools in the country.
Babalola, a Professor of Pharmaceutical Science, said that while nobody knows when the global coronavirus pandemic would end, there was the need for gradual resumption of socio-economic activities, including reopening of schools. She spoke in Abeokuta during a virtual matriculation ceremony held for 148 fresh students admitted into the institution.
The Vice-Chancellor added that the ceremony, which was conducted online at the university auditorium, was to abide by the Federal Government’s directive and safety protocols on COVID-19 pandemic.
It will be recalled that the Federal Government recently released guidelines, protocols, outlining actions, measures and requirements needed for the safe reopening of schools across the country.
While speaking further on the development, Babalola urged the government to reopen schools, especially for final year students, especially Primary Six, Junior Secondary School (JSS 3), Senior Secondary School (SS 3) and NABTEB, at all levels to enable them to write the examinations and finish their education on time. But, to achieve physical distancing in schools, the government, she pointed out, needed to stagger the resumption of students, saying: “For this pandemic, we do not understand it fully and we do not know when it will end. We already know that there is need for social distancing, there is need for personal hygiene, wearing of face masks, and washing of hands regularly with soap in running water, among other precautionary measures to be observed.” The Vice-Chancellor added: “So, to ensure social distancing, we need to staggerresumptionof studentsandwe need to reopen schools for pupils and students that are in terminal classes to take their external examinations. “The West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) is actually not just a Nigerian examination alone, it is an examination for the five-member countries of WAEC and they have announced that the examinations will start in August. So, I believe that while studying and understanding this disease let us start with the students in the terminal classes in all institutions, from nursery to the university. “At least, the school environment we have can take those finalists, they can occupy the entire school and you will still achieve social distancing. When they space out, they will surely do it.” The don urged the government at alllevelstosupportschoolsandparents with safety gadgets, including provision of face masks, hand sanitisers and thermometers, towards curbing further spread of coronavirus when schools reopen. In her remarks, the Chancellor and Chairmanof theuniversity’sBoardof Trustees (BOT), Dr. Winifred Awosika, called on the managements of private and public schools to cooperate with the government in achieving safe reopening of schools.
Awosika, an educationist, however, stressed the need for parents, students and schools to cultivate the habit of maintaining good hygiene when schools are reopened, even as she admonish the fresh students to work towards national unity and shun tribalism in the interest of the country, as well as eschew those acts detrimental to the growth of education and their development