By Jude Atupulazi
A leading gubernatorial aspirant on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Mr Valentine Ozigbo, has called for strict observance of COVID-19 protocols by schools following their resumption last Monday.
The Anambra State Government had directed the reopening of all schools in the state last Monday after they were shut in December last year, following a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases across the country.
But while commending the state government for ordering the resumption of academic activities in the state, Ozigbo, immediate past President and Group CEO of Transcorp Plc, called for caution among teachers and students to prevent worsening the situation, urging teachers and students to adhere strictly to COVID-19 protocols.
His words, ‘The delay or several changes in date for the resumption of schools was a fall out of the ravaging and rampaging COVID-19 pandemic, but the reality is that one way or another, we have to continue with our lives and one of such important aspects of our moving on with our lives is for students to go back to school.
‘While I welcome the resumption of academic activities across our primary and secondary schools, I must say that it is with a mixed feeling. Mixed feeling because children are naturally adventurous and playful, hence, may let down their guard against the pandemic.
‘Moving from the home environment that they, hitherto, were in, to the open school environment, means increased possibilities for exposure.
‘This implies that the chances of infection and spread of the coronavirus may become higher,’ he said.
Ozigbo therefore called on relevant authorities to, in addition to putting in place the necessary protocols, also ensure that the school management and the teachers were vigilant and closely monitoring the students to ensure they complied with the safety protocols.
He argued that while the dangers of spreading the virus existed, it was not enough justification to continue keeping the schools locked and the children at home in perpetuity
‘I can understand the concerns of those who may hold a contrary opinion but the question for them is, how long should the schools remain closed?
‘From unimpeachable scientific findings, it is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic will not disappear any time soon but rather it will linger for some time and while efforts are on to increase vaccine coverage across the globe, humans must learn to live with the virus.
‘Scientific research has also shown that the spread of the disease can be curtailed if the protocols and the laid down safety measures are strictly followed,’ he said.
Ozigbo warned that prolonged school closure would aggravate what he called the already unfortunate situation created by the high number of out-of-school children, fearing that it would do permanent damage to the country’s educational system and the future of the children.
The renowned business mogul and philanthropist, further called for sacrifice and adjustment in lifestyle, noting that the safety measures, if properly set up, carefully coordinated, and effectively implemented, held the key to keeping the pandemic under check in schools.