Nigeria recorded her first case of COVID-19 — part of the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease — on the 27 February 2020, when an Italian citizen tested positive of the virus in Lagos.
After several cases in major states in Nigeria, the Federal Government (FG) on 27 March ordered the indefinite suspension of social and religious gatherings and the closure of schools that succeeded the two weeks break announced by the school management on 8th March 2020.
The lockdown put a pause to the academic calendar of schools for over eight months. Now, there are speculations that Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba-Akoko (AAUA) Ondo State would be resuming academic activities soon, eyeballs have been raised, tongues have been restless on whether schools should fully resume or stay closed in the face of the fight against COVID-19.
As at October 29, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) released that there are 62,521 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 58,249 discharged patients and 1,141 deaths. Many Nigerians have at one point in time breach the safety and preventive measures laid down by NCDC — washing of hands, use of face masks and hand sanitizers, and maintaining social distancing.
I am ready now
In spite of the increasing number of confirmed cases, some well-meaning Nigeria on the side of the coin feel AAUA should resume amidst COVID-19. The argument of if markets and religious centres are opened, then there is nothing stopping the re-opening of schools, where students would be educated and given enough information about the virus.
With the look of things, it is arguable that COVID-19 would take its leave anytime soon, since there is neither an approved cure nor a vaccine to help tackle the virus. Therefore, it will be a sane action to open schools in spite of the pandemic.
The closure of schools has arguably robbed students a solid semester out of their academic year. In order to put an end to the waste of time, AAUA should be re-opened to revive the academic calendar, albeit, the FG needs to provide adequate materials like face masks and hands sanitizers to prevent the continuous spread of the disease.
However, the management of AAUA through the Committee on Post COVID-19 Free University Community (CPCFUC) took it as a point of duty to curb the further spread of COVID-19.
The other side of the coin believes that AAUA should stay closed until Nigeria overcomes the pandemic. Education does not worth the life of a student. The re-opening of AAUA with the number of confirmed cases would enhance the continuous spread of COVID-19.
While some feel this not the first time in Nigeria’s education history for schools to be closed this long, looking at the consistent strike actions by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other tertiary institution unions, hence, to curb the further spread of the disease the closure of schools should remain intact.
In spite of the fact that the school management through the COVID-19 committee is already putting all necessary precautions in place, well-meaning students and guardians feel AAUA should remain closed.
For coronavirus disease not to ensue another greater suffering, and for more danger not to loom the education system, the Federal Government through the Ministry of Health should do all its best in a holistic manner to ensure the safety of the citizenry and the re-opening of all our schools.
Which side of the coin do you belong to?