The Lagos state government has revealed its intention to comply with a federal government directive fixing the resumption of secondary schools all over the country for September 22.
The state had initially expressed doubts about the feasibility of the date set by the federal government, but special adviser to the Lagos state governor on information and strategy, Lateef Raji, said on Friday that the about-face was decided in view of the absence of any confirmed case of Ebola in the state.
However, he assured the public that the government plans to sensitise and train students on what to know about the virus, while providing the necessary equipment for its early detection.
“Concerning the resumption of all public and private nursery, primary and secondary schools for the 2014/2015 session, Lagos state government supports the September 22, 2014 date, which was announced by the federal government after a national consultation on efforts to contain the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Nigeria,” Raji said.
“Although this resumption date is advisory, as education is a concurrent matter to be regulated by the respective federal and state authorities, Lagos state government considers it eminently justifiable, in view of the fact that there is currently no known carrier of EVD in our state at the moment.
“Furthermore, the last individual suspected to have been exposed to the virus will be discharged from observation on September 18, 2014, if he tests negative for the virus. All public and private educational institutions in the state are therefore directed to schedule their resumption accordingly.”
He added that after considering the current situation report, it was clear that the risk of infection with EVD in Lagos state had been significantly reduced, while health professionals working on the outbreak were also in agreement that there was no reason schools should remain closed beyond September 22, 2014.
“In spite of the foregoing, the state government has now developed and will deploy all resources necessary to sustain the capacity to promptly take into custody any person suspected to be infected with EVD, as well as safely test, monitor and isolate such a person for treatment as may be found necessary without endangering other members of the public,” he said, acknowledging the need for everyone to remain very vigilant since the disease still remains in other countries within the sub-region.
He said steps to be taken in all schools, whether public or private, before and after resumption of schools: include training and sensitising students, vendors, teachers and non academic staff on EVD and how to avoid it; identification of EVD Focal Persons in schools who would be responsible for surveillance and health monitoring; and provision of adequate environmental sanitation, including clean toilets and premises; provision of running water and soap and encouragement of frequent hand washing.
Others are sensitisation of students on other personal hygiene habits, such as the use of handkerchiefs when sneezing or coughing; and arrangement for prompt referral of any sick person to the nearest health institution for treatment.
“In spite of the foregoing, the state government reiterates that the health of all its residents is a matter of utmost importance and, if any reasons emerge for a reconsideration of the school resumption date, a well-considered decision will be taken and the general public will be informed accordingly.
“The state government salutes the health personnel and health institutions that have done their best to ensure the containment of EVD. Government officials will meet presently with those health institutions, which might have suffered adverse economic consequences as a result, and will find ways of assisting them to mitigate their loses and safely reopen for business as soon as possible.”