Many parents and teachers in Oyo State are in a dilemma over the decision of the state government to reopen schools on July 6, this year, amidst rising incidences of COVID-19 cases in the state and in the country. During the week, three Commissioners in the state and a number of medical experts tested positive for the virus.
Presently, Ibadan is not a city where many wear facemask or observe social distancing. Hustling and bustling in the major markets remain unchecked, as locals still believe that coronavirus “can infect only rich and powerful individuals who spend longer hours in air-conditioned rooms.”
The Minister of State for Education, Mr Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, had while speaking during the meeting of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, described the plan by the state government to re-open schools as insensitive.
“For you to decide to unleash this in the public in the face of the pandemic is to be insensitive. Nigeria has not gotten to optimal testing, so we cannot forecast where this epidemic is most positioned. The least we can do is to keep our children under lock and key until we are sure it’s safe.”
“When you say the education sector opens, you are opening transporters, food sellers, and the like. The country cannot afford it now,” he said. A widower and social worker in one of the private hospitals in Ibadan, Mr. Tade Oguntunsi, captured the mood of parents and teachers in the state.
He said: “I became a widower about four years ago. As a single father, I am struggling to cope with raising our four children and three of them are in a public secondary school in Mokola while the youngest is at a public primary school, also in the same area. We know the facility in all these schools; if my salary could cope with sending my children to private schools, I know good schools my children should attend.
“To me, it is suicidal to allow students to resume now. I won’t take that risk. I will rather take them to other states to continue their education. We know children will play and share things among themselves. Which other state in the Southwest is taking that risk? Why the hurry?”
For Mrs. Omotayo Mala-Adebayo, a mother and public affairs analyst, “to be sincere with you, my kids are going nowhere, except I am fully convinced that certain things are put in place for their safety. They have to be sure that two teachers will be available for each class, one teacher for monitoring and one for teaching. And do we have testing materials available? We need maximum prevention and protection in schools. These are the conditions that could make me release my children.”
Speaking in the same vein, Mrs. Busayo Oyewumi, said: “I can’t allow my children to go to school now. No proper provision has been made. Nobody knows what may happen on the way. It is not safe for them now because they use items like face masks together. Do the teachers have materials to test them? It is wrong at this period to let them go to school.”
Lady Ifeoma Patricia Amaechi-Obi, who is a mother of two, said:” I am a poor widow. I can’t allow my kids to go to any school. It is not safe to do so. Taking them to school now is not safe. They are too young, pliable and malleable. They are ignorant of what they do. Kids will definitely exchange facemasks. They don’t understand the implications. Even my kids exchange facemasks at home. My son even said we could pray not to catch COVID-19. Can you see how children think?