Second Wave COVID-19: NAPPS Insists FG Must Keep Schools Open

Private school owners, under the auspices of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, (NAPPS), on Thursday, called on the Federal government to keep schools open, saying that the impact of another lockdown on schools will be grievous than the coronavirus itself.

Besides, the association lamented that many schools have collapsed and put up for sale while over 30 percent of its members have gone bankrupt and indebted to some financial institutions.

Speaking during a meeting with stakeholders and journalists via Zoom, NAPPS National President, Otunba Yomi Otubela, said the umbrella body of the private school owners has noted with grave concerns the recent pronouncement credited to the Federal Government as regards the proposed review of the resumption date of schools fixed for 18th of January 2021 due to the resurgence of the COVID-19 infections in the country.

Otubela, who acknowledged the concerns of the government, said NAPPS differs from the review of the date which could keep the schools closed as against the earlier date announced due to the following reasons as justification for demand to keep the schools open.

“We all heard what UNICEF said a few days ago that schools are not drivers of the pandemic and that keeping the schools locked would do more damage to the society in general than the pandemic we are all fighting.
“I can say unequivocally that schools are better structured to manage their pupils and students. In big cities like Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano and others, schools come to the rescue of parents by helping them keep their children safe.

“In NAPPS, our members have put all the necessary facilities in place to comply with the directives of the PTF on COVID-19 and the NCDC. While we appreciate the efforts of the government to keep schools safe, we have done a number of things and we suggest the same for public schools. One of which is that there should be strict adherence and enforcement of the safety protocols.

“Wearing of face masks, use of alcohol-based hand sanitiser, daily reading of body temperature of people, physical distancing. Not admitting any sick person into school premises, provision of isolation room in every school in the case of anybody falling sick while in school, among others.

“Public schools that have large student population should adopt staggered resumption and lesser number of teaching hours.

We also suggest that monitoring teams should go round all schools to ensure compliance and we even want parents to be part of such teams, their children we take care of are also our children,” Otubela added.

In his assessment of the losses suffered by members of the association, Otubela said they practically lost all and went borrowing.

Some of our members are indebted to some financial institutions. We are still collating what our members lost. I can say close to 30 per cent of our members ran bankrupt. Many have put up their schools for sale.”

“While we believe that there is no basis for the continued closure of schools in the country due to COVID-19 as this may lead to negative consequences, especially for our fragile educational system, we also align with the UNICEF concerns that the effects of closing school for another year will be felt for generations to come.

He urged the government to make good promise to school owners for survival fund, saying the fund had not been coming as expected.

However, information from other parts of the country showed that schools will resume on January 18 as earlier announced by the government just as Rivers, Beyelsa and Abia states among others have resumed.

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