Nations, like individuals and corporations, are living in times they make painful decisions because of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of such decisions that Nigeria made on Wednesday was that schools should remain closed.
The schools have been shut down since March due to the outbreak of the virus. But since then, the debate has been on how soon the schools should resume.
To be sure, some school owners have been mounting pressure on government authorities to reopen schools. A majority of these school owners are not doing this because of their love for their students. Rather, they are propelled by their pecuniary interest.
It is painful that our children are not in school. But considering the danger of their going back to school now, it is clearly better that they remain at home. This clearly was the position of the Federal Executive Council at its virtual meeting.
The government took cognisance of the fact that some of the students are supposed to have their final examinations. However, it noted that it preferred that the children lost an academic calendar to their going to school only to be infected with the virus.
Since the position of the government is based on the need to check the spread of COVID-19, it should be supported by parents whose children are not in school because of the pandemic. .
Just like many other nations, Nigeria is still groping for an effective response to the disease. Even in nations with advanced medical systems, the more efforts are made to contain the virus, the more there are
cases of infected persons.
So far in Nigeria, the disease has not discriminated between the lowly and highly placed in the society. It ravages all it comes across. This is the more reason the government position is justified.
Those who are exposed to the best medical care and are supposed to live in the healthiest environments in the country have been cut down by this disease.
If governors and their aides could be infected , how will students who may not be in the best hygienic environment protect themselves against the virus?
The tragedy may be worse at the primary school down to the nursery level where the numbers of pupils may overwhelm their teachers and other supervisors in school.
It therefore becomes imperative that we should all share the government perspective. There is no sense in sending our children to school only for us to get back their dead bodies.
One child who is inffected will definitely spread the virus to other children. But if our children are alive at the end of the pandemic, they will have the opportunity to go back to school and regain lost ground.
The examples of South Korea and Israel that reopened their schools only to close them because of the spike in COVID-19 cases among children are available to guide Nigeria and parents.
In this regard, states that have already declared their schools reopened should reconsider their decision. This is more so because when their decision leads to an increase in COVID-19 cases, they are not the only ones who will be affected.
What is needed now is for government at all levels to intensify efforts to check the spread of the disease and save the lives of those who have already contracted it.
Both at the federal and state levels, more testing should be encouraged.Government officials should be deployed in communities where the awareness of the reality of the virus is still low.
While the schools are closed, parents should encourage their children to be involved in virtual learning despite the challenges this entails in this part of the world . They should also be encouraged to explore unfamiliar areas of knowledge.
The government should place emphasis on creating the awareness that citizens have a huge role to play if their children must go back to school soon.
It is the same parents who want their children to go back to school who would not wear face masks in the market and other crowded places. Parents should help the government to fight the virus by adhering to all the protocols that will keep them and their children safe.