By Gabriel Chy Alonta
Mr Valentine Ozigbo, the immediate past President and Group CEO of Transcorp Plc, has backed the decision of the Anambra state government to reopen schools on February 1, 2021, and called for strict compliance with COVID-19 protocols to keep students and teachers safe. Ozigbo, a leading Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) aspirant for the forthcoming governorship election noted in a statement in Awka, the Anambra state capital: “The announcement by the government of Anambra State reopening both public and private primary and secondary schools in the state for academic works on the 1st day of February 2021, is a welcomed development and I align myself with it.
“The delay or several changes in date for the resumption of schools was a fall out of the ravaging and rampaging COVID-19 pandemic, but the reality is that one way or another, we have to continue with our lives and one of such important aspect of our moving on with our lives is for students to go back to school.
“While I welcome the resumption of academic activities across our primary and secondary schools, I must say that it is with a mixed feeling. Mixed feeling because children are naturally adventurous and playful, hence, may let down their guard against the pandemic.
“Moving from the home environment that they, hitherto, were in, to the school environment – an open group from different places – means increased (opportunities) possibilities for exposure.
“This implies that the chances of infection and spread of the coronavirus (maybe) might become higher. “I, therefore, call on relevant authorities to, in addition to putting in place, the necessary protocols such as handwashing and compulsory use of (face) masks, to also ensure that the school management and the teachers are vigilantes and closely monitoring the students to ensure they are complying with the safety protocols.
He argued that while the dangers of spreading the virus exist, it was not enough justification to continue keeping the schools locked and the children at home in perpetuity “I can understand the concerns of those who may hold a contrary opinion but the question for them is, how long should the schools remain closed? “From unimpeachable scientific findings, it is clear that the Covid-19 pandemic will not disappear any time soon but rather it will linger for some time and while efforts are on to increase vaccine coverage across the globe, humans must learn to live with the virus.
“Scientific research has also shown that the spread of the disease can be curtailed if the protocols and the laid down safety measures are strictly followed”, the statement read in part”. Mr Ozigbo, then warned that prolonged school closure was aggravating the already unfortunate situation created by the high number of out-of-school children while emphasising the import of productive engagement of Anambra children.
“It can be argued and superiorly too that we must move on with our educational lives just like we are moving on with other aspects of our lives. Anything short of this would do permanent damage to our educational system and the future of our children.
“The world is a global village, hence our activities must reflect and have bearing on what goes on in the other parts of the world. “Luckily, Nigeria is not as hard hit as some other countries, yet those country’s educational system is not completely shut down. “Rather, students are in class under special conditions that are tailored towards curtailing the spread of the pandemic.
This is exactly what we should do also”, he said. The business mogul and philanthropist further quipped: “The current situation (brought by) COVID-19 had pushed us into calls for sacrifice and adjustment in our lifestyle. The safety measures if properly set up, carefully coordinated, and effectively implemented holds the key to keeping the pandemic under check and in abeyance from the schools”.