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The founder and Chancellor of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Aare Afe Babalola, has offered suggestions on how the Federal Government can reopen tertiary institutions, as well as secondary and primary schools, in the country within four weeks.
Babalola, in a 15-point statement released in Ado-Ekiti on Monday, said the persistent rise in the number of people infected with COVID-19 did not suggest that the pandemic would come to an end soon.
Recalling that schools nationwide were hurriedly closed down by government fiat on March 23, 2020, even as some students and pupils were either sitting or about to sit for examinations, the prominent lawyer urged the Federal Government not to wait until all towns and villages in Nigeria were free from the coronavirus before reopening all educational institutions.
He said private universities and schools, which were reputed for quality and functional education, predictable academic calendar, moral and physical training, discipline, clean environment and good hygiene standards should be allowed to resume academic activities within four weeks after they had been certified to have fulfilled certain conditions.
Listing the conditions, Babalola wrote, “The school must establish that it has residential accommodation for all students and most, if not all, of the staff.
“Parents shall give a written undertaking supported with medical certificates that the student is fit or healthy to resume academic work.
“The institution, which must be fenced, must have a main gate manned by security men, nurses and other medical personnel.
“There shall be about three running water tanks at the gate where students will wash their hands with soap. There shall be portable hand sanitisers similar to those manufactured by ABUAD with NAFDAC registration number 037328. Each student must be armed with the sanitiser.”
The list also included infrared thermometers, which should be made available at the main gate of the university campus where students, staff and visitors coming into the university would be tested by a nurse or other medical personnel.
Babalola added that the university must have in place Polymerase Chain Reaction and Serological Test Machines.
He stressed that each tertiary institution or school must have in place a building specially designed to accommodate any student or pupil who is suspected to have any type of infectious diseases ranging from cough, chicken pox, measles, diarrhea, etc other than Covid-19.
“Each university must have two functional fumigation machines: one for external fumigation and the other for internal fumigation. All hostels, classrooms, cafeteria, conference halls and sports facilities shall be fumigated before resumption.
“The schools must have testing kits as the students or pupils must undergo test fortnightly. There must be provision for face masks, which shall be used by students and staff in classrooms, conference halls and everywhere on the campus,” he said.
Stressing that visitors must not be allowed to go into the institutions, except on condition that they were thoroughly screened at the gates and made to wait in a special room outside the hostels, he suggested that final year students forced to go home while preparing for their final examination should resume first, take their examination and vacate the university within two to three weeks.
The chancellor also said that to ensure compliance with these rules, the resumption of other students should be staggered, while the local ministry of education should visit the institution to present a certificate of compliance, if found deserving, before it is allowed to reopen for academic activities.
The statement read in part, “The same conditions shall also apply to public universities with some variation. For those students who are residents in the public university, the same prescription stated above shall apply.
“For the students who live outside the campus, the parents shall provide a written undertaking that their children will go to school either in their private cars or buses arranged by parents and/or students. The vehicles shall be screened at the gate.
“Public institutions shall provide the same items, which private universities are bound to have, in place. They include fencing of the school, provision for main gate, running water tanks, soap, hand sanitisers, infrared thermometers, testing kits, a building for infectious disease and fumigation machines.”