Covid-19 Second Wave Hits Hard as Government Reviews Schools Resumption
Joy filled the entire country when the Academic staff union of Universities (ASUU) finally called off its nine-month strike after going through a series of negotiations with the government. Students and lecturers were at home due to the strike declared by ASUU since March 2020 because of the funding of universities and implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS). The union was against this because it denies the independence policy for the universities. After several negotiations, the federal government In November 2020 agreed to exclude members of ASUU from the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System.
The government also agreed to pay the universities lecturers their outstanding salaries from February to June using the old salary platform which is the Government Integrated Financial and Management Information System and proffer lasting industrial peace in the university system.
The government also shifted grounds, as it agreed to pay outstanding salaries to the university lecturers from February to June, through the old salary payment platform as well as resolve other issues for a lasting industrial harmony in the university system.
The news of the strike being called up fired up the hope in students that they were going to resume in January only for the second wave of COVID-19 in the country to spring up and disrupt the plan and shatter the joy of students who cannot wait to resume. The second wave of the virus has massively increased the number of patients who have contacted the virus hence the government placed a ban on crossover service that churches annually organize to crossover into the new year, not only did they place a ban on crossover service, bars, clubs, religious and social gatherings was limited to 50 persons and schools were ordered to close and resume on the 18th of January 2020.
Universities despite the strike that was called off also had to adhere to the January 18 resumption date. Now, the numbers of contacted COVID-19 patients keep rising. The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) website has revealed that on the 10th of January, Nigeria recorded 1,024 new cases in 16 states and the Federal Capital Territory on January 10, 2020. Lagos of all the states has the highest number of the reported cases. Surprisingly Lagosians will not stop partying and attending large gatherings despite the alarming figures of those who have contacted the virus.
Back to school resumption being reviewed, this means that students will have to stay at home for close to one year. Now, there is no reason why some bodies are affected with the stay-at-home rule and others are not in order to curb the spread of the virus. Does this mean it is only in schools that people can contact the virus? The National Identity Management Commission [NIMC] centres are still accommodating crowds at their centres because of the National Identity number registrations. There are some churches that still accommodate over 50 people, events still go on with a lot of people, if these parties can go on with their activities then it is unfair to keep students at home.
A strategy that will help curb the spread generally should be put in place while maintaining the precautions of wearing a face mask, using hand sanitizers, maintaining social distance and so on.
The National Association of Nigerian Students also reported that postponing student’s resumption might not be the best thing to do but rather than postpone, the government should approach the outrageous spread of the virus and rising cases of death from an environmental strategy and human coordination position. The body supported this with the fact that the economy right now will not support another national lockdown. So rather than announce another national lockdown, or postponing student resumption, NANS wants the government to give an environmental strategy approach to the virus.
To ensure that all COVID-19 guidelines as put in place by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 are enforced, the body ordered all its chapters in all tertiary institutions to set up COVID-19 task force teams. This is another step that can help school resumption. The only problem here is for federal and state universities if covid-19 guidelines are adhered to in the school premises, how do they want to curb the spread in the student’s hostels, when students go out to the market for shopping, meeting all kinds of people and coming back to the school premises. Private universities can still control this because once students resume, they are not allowed to leave the school premises without getting permission from the management.
Another way to go about this is to emulate private universities and start online classes with students at all levels and hold examinations at batches. The problem here again is that some students might not show up for the online classes, most of these students hardly come for physical classes, there will be a nonchalant attitude towards the online class attendance which will not motivate the lecturers or instructors.
Despite all the outrage and rising numbers of patients who are contacting the virus and those that have died because of the virus, a video of a man of God who said wearing a face mask makes you a “baby Christian” went viral. He said that Christians who use a face mask are playing games and are not worthy to be called men of God. This is not a statement that should be flying around because I am sure there are some religious people who will find that meaningful. If we can wear our face mask in our offices, at events, then we should wear it in the church as well. Even the Bible says wisdom is profitable to direct. So, if you not using a mask will expose you to getting the virus, then use it so that you do not get the virus. Even the big men of Good use it on their alters.
We hope the federal government, NANS and ASUU proffer a solution and set strategies towards students school resumption because the earlier the better. Their academic calendar has lagged for so long and has disrupted their plans, the earlier students get back to school, the better. Corona Virus is real, stay safe!