Ebola: Abuja Parents call for shift in schools’ resumption date

Ebola patient being attended to during the last outbreak

Parents of students in Abuja have called on the Nigerian government to postpone the resumption date of schools.

Following the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria, the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, and the Federal Government disagreed on the resumption date of schools, with the former demanding that government put in place containment measures before pupils are called back.

At the peak of the outbreak, the Minister of Education, Ibrahim Shekarau, ordered all schools to shift their
resumption date to October 13.

Owners of private schools protested the new date and described it as waste of time.

Mr. Shekarau then brought the date forward to September 22, promising that containment measures, including ensuring running water, soap, sanitisers and infrared thermometres are available in all schools.

Mr. Shekarau also promised that teachers would be trained on preventive methods by health workers.

But the NUT is insisting that the government is yet to fulfill its promises in more than half of all states in Nigeria.

The union said its members would only go back to the classroom when all measures to prevent the spread of the disease had been put in place.

A lot of parents agree with the teacher’s decision.

A father of three, Aniekan Usoroh, told PREMIUM TIMES Ebola is of great concern and that schools should only reopen after everything that will help its containment are in place.

Mr. Usoroh said, “Ebola isn’t what we should be playing politics or having a power tussle over. With kids, the consequence of a spread is more likely. The teachers aren’t equipped to handle this as a nation; we need to
stamp out Ebola completely before we can let our kids back in school which shouldn’t take forever either,

“For a nation where universities sometimes are grounded due to strikes for wages and all, it’s amazing that we are having a debate over keeping our kids out of school for a while in a bid to protect them and save ourselves, simply amazing.”

He explained that the issue of resumption had not been properly thought through by those insisting that schools should open in September.

“There is no basis for an early resumption considering that the October date was fixed even when we hadn’t had the Port Harcourt Ebola incidence…then you have the Port Harcourt incidence and then move the date earlier, that doesn’t add up, not in the least,” Mr. Usoroh said.

He called on the ministry of health to come up with a clear-cut plan to keep schools Ebola-free.

“Teachers should be trained on what to do…sick bays should be set up and properly equipped, a couple of months at home won’t tear us apart, let’s be responsible,” he added.

Ugochi Ekwueme, a mother of two, also told PREMIUM TIMES the safety of the children should be paramount before any other consideration.

“Whether we like it or not, their safety comes first and Ebola is not something we play with it. I think the children will not be safe if school resumes in September. October is better.

“We know that our children are lagging behind but that is something we as parents can handle. I advise parents to have a lesson teacher at home so that the kids will not lag behind,” Ms Ekwueme said.

Another parent, Onuche Paul, also said the children are better off at home until the Nigerian Government is able to say vividly that Nigeria is clear of Ebola.

He also called on the Nigerian Government to extend the date of resumption stating that children are more difficult to handle than adults.

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