Teachers to meet Thursday over COVID-19 rules

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The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) on Monday, amid concern about the rising coronavirus cases, said it would on Thursday hold a meeting on the pandemic and compliance with COVID-19 protocols in schools across the country.

The Secretary-General of the NUT, Mike Ene, stated this in an interview in Abuja, as primary and secondary schools in many states reopened with partial compliance with COVID-19 safety rules.

While schools in some states observed safety rules such as social distancing and hand washing others disregarded them as classrooms were overcrowded.

The NUT Secretary-General, Ene, said Thursday’s meeting would review compliance with COVID-19 protocols with the aim of ensuring safety of teachers and their pupils.

When asked to comment on safety rules in schools, he stated, “I cannot tell you whether anybody is complying with COVID – 19 protocols in states. I have never asked anybody because since we are all going to speak on it, there is no point calling anybody. We have called a NEC (National Executive Committee) meeting for Thursday to look at how the resumptions have been.”

Ene advised teachers to avoid hugging one another.

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He said it was the duty of state governments to provide personal protective equipment, adding that the union had directed its members to assess what each state provided.

Ene stated, “If the government provides everything and there is running water, children know what to do. We have imbibed this practice of washing of hands. All we want is to ensure that there is regular water supply. We should avoid hugging one another and hand shaking.

“Our pupils and students have really wasted time and keeping them at home longer will mean that their brains will be retarded. If markets, where everybody goes are not shut, I don’t know why schools should be shut.”

Meanwhile, two committees of the House of Representatives on education have disagreed over the resumption of schools.

The Chairman of the House on Committee on Tertiary Institutions, Mr Aminu Suleiman, in an interview with one of our correspondents on Sunday night, said the House had yet to take a collective decision on school reopening.

He, however, said academic activities should resume as commercial and religious activities were not suspended.

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The House Committee on Basic Education and Services had on Saturday said the country was not prepared for reopening of schools.

The Chairman of the committee, Prof Julius Ihonvbere, had, in a statement on Saturday faulted the Federal Government for allowing schools to resume despite the rising cases of COVID-19.

But on Sunday night, Suleiman argued that Ihonvbere’s comments were his personal opinion and that of his committee.

Suleiman said, “As for the (committee on) tertiary institutions, we are completely not against the resumption. In fact, we received it with joy and happiness. We welcomed the resumption. Many Nigerians are desirous of ensuring a sustainable educational system in the country.

“We (lawmakers) were carried along in all the preparations by the ministry (of Education) and we are satisfied with the level of preparations and (safety) measures put in place to ensure a conducive and healthy atmosphere for both teaching and learning.”

Schools in states including Enugu, Ekiti Lagos, Ogun, Ogun, Ebonyi, as well as the Federal Capital Territory resumed academic activities on Monday for the second term of the 2020/21 academic year with partial compliance with COVID-19 protocols.

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