By Maria Famakinwa
As schools reopen for the new year, the fear of how to protect the students against COVID-19 scourge is of the uttermost concern. It is expected that private school owners and government put modalities in place to ensure the safety of students, teachers and non teaching staff against COVID-19, given the recently reported variants.
Despite warnings from epidemiologists and World Health Organization (WHO) that vaccines, the use of nose masks and regular hand washing with sanitizer among others work well for preventing COVID-19 pandemic outbreaks in schools, investigation revealed that most students go to school without nose masks. The Hope spoke with some school proprietors and government teachers on measures put in place to keep the learners safe in schools.
A school owner, Mrs Folasade Akintoye, explained that the best way for schools to avoid COVID-19 spread was to ensure that students and teachers wash their hands frequently. The woman who disclosed that there were many pressing needs to prevent COVID-19 transmission in Nigerian schools called on stakeholders in the education sector to join hands in the fight against the deadly scourge.
Her words: “Since pupils are not being vaccinated against COVID-19, it behooves on the schools managements to protect them while in school and ensure their safety. One of the best ways to achieve this is to compel all teaching and non teaching staff to be vaccinated and use their nose masks while in school.
“We also encourage our students to wash their hands regularly while teachers supervise younger children to be sure that they wash their hands thoroughly. Parents also should go for the vaccines and ensure that their children come to school with their nose masks.”
Another school proprietor, Mr Oluwadare Babatope, explained that they had sensitized students to always use their nose masks in the school compound and that they monitor them to ensure compliance.
He said: “We all know that COVID-19 is caused by a virus that spreads through droplets released when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Due to this, we have made the use of nose masks a rule for every student. Peradventure they are not with it and want to sneeze or cough, they are also aware that they should do it into their elbows.
“On the part of the school management, we have carried out thorough clearing and cleaning of the school compound, we also disinfected objects and surfaces a week to resumption, which is going to be a frequent exercise. Aside this, the school management since 2020 had resolved to hold its yearly Parents Teachers Association (PTA) meeting through the school’s WhatsApp page to prevent physical contact. We have running water where students can wash their hands with soap.
“If you own a school or you are a teacher in an educational institution, you should know that safety rules are essential and should be implemented. We don’t joke with anything that has to do with the safety of our students. Once they enter the school compound, we are responsible for their well being and we are not lagging behind in this regard. Everything that can be provided to ensure their safety is in place,” he said.
A school principal, Mr Kolawole Owonikoko, submitted that the school during the holiday fumigated the school compound and disinfected touched objects and surfaces. This, according to him, will go a long way to protect the learners.
He added: “Another decision taken by the school management this new year is to limit the number of visitors to the school. Parents are to drop their children at the school gate and ensure that each child comes to school with alcohol based hand sanitizer and nose mask after washing their hands at the school entrance. We also ensure a distance of two metres, as recommended by WHO, among students is maintained. In addition to this, the school management has reduced the time for long break to checkmate the students, while teachers on duty will monitor them.”
In the submission of a public school teacher who simply gave his name as Mr Femi, he hinted that since the outbreak of coronavirus, the State government had made the use of nose masks for both students and staff in government schools across the State compulsory and everyone had adhered to it.
His words: “Hardly will you see a public school student or teacher within the school premises without a nose mask, because the State government made it compulsory for all State workers, to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Another step taken is to check students’ temperature before entering the school compound.
f any students temperature is high, the school will invite his/her parents to take the student home. Public schools also made available washing hands bowls, soap and hand sanitizers within the school where students can easily wash their hands as many times as possible. These are the steps we are following to guarantee the students safety,” he added.
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