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COVID-19 Guidelines: Much left to be desired as Unity schools resume Monday

The Minister of Education Malam Adamu Adamu recently approved the resumption of the 104 Unity Schools on October 12, after six months of closure due…

The Minister of Education Malam Adamu Adamu recently approved the resumption of the 104 Unity Schools on October 12, after six months of closure due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Adamu said: “Having taken that painful but necessary decision, government has not rested on its oars in the areas of consultation with stakeholders, putting together guidelines for reopening of schools and preparations required of school owners to reopen.”

Inside view of a hostel at General Murtala Ramat Muhammed (GMMC) Yola

He said with the level of preparations put to test and the flattening of the infection curve, “We have come to the conclusion that we have to review our earlier decision, especially against the realization that COVID-19 has come to stay and that we have to live with it.”

Adamu maintained that there is need for all schools to obey and adhere to the guidelines for the reopening of schools as earlier announced by the presidential task force.

He said that any school that failed to comply with the guidelines and should there be any outbreak, risk closure of the school.

Adamu urged school owners to ensure social distancing procedures, develop and display at schools and conduct risk assessment with a view to understanding the gaps in the system.

Meanwhile, schools are to ensure that all returning students are to undergo temperature checks among other protocols such as safe distancing, frequent hand washing and the use of facemasks before being admitted into their schools.

Other protocols include provision of adequate Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities across the school premises, encouraging use of open spaces for gathering and promoting outdoor activities as well as establishment of a staff/students Committee for regular surveillance, monitoring and enforcement of COVID-19 guidelines.

Daily Trust on Sunday check on some unity schools to ascertain their level of preparedness showed that a number of the schools are ready and eager to resume for academic activities after the long closure of schools but without adequate provision regarding the guidelines.

  • Bauchi

In Hassan Usman Katsina Unity College (HUKUC) Bauchi State, there were no provision of the required protocols in place, either in classrooms or the hostel which is currently in a dilapidated state.

A student writing NECO in the school told Daily Trust that the management of the school had earlier during the WAEC examination put some measures of COVID-19 protocol in place but before the end of exams all the measures were removed.

“There is nothing like COVID-19 protocol in our hostel because majority of the structures are in deplorable state. Whenever it is raining, we pack our mattresses to the ground floor and squat with our colleagues because the roofing is completely damaged,” he said.

Hasan Usman Katsina Unity College (HUKUC) in Bauchi

He said: “Sometimes, between 10 and 15 students squat in a room and our teachers, other staff and students do not observe the COVID-19 protocol. You can go round and see for yourself if there is anything put in the school for prevention against the virus. Even the purported fumigation was not carried out in our hostel because of the condition of the buildings.”

However, at the Federal Government Girls College Bauchi, the story is different as the school has observed all the stipulated protocols right from the entrance of the school and hostel with posters of the new rules for both students and visitors for guidance at the gate.

A SS3 student of FGGS Bauchi said: “The number of students in each room and dining table have been reduced from 12 to 4 and wearing of facemask has been enforced both in the classroom and hostel. But I don’t know how the arrangements will be when the rest of the students resume next week.”

  • Kaduna

At the Federal Government Girls College Malali, Kaduna, our reporter saw only three students in uniform moving around the administrative block and a few teachers at the time of visit.

Only one of the students was seen wearing a facemask as the two others moved around without face shields or masks.

However, at the entrance to the school, a handwashing container was placed by the main gate and another at the school’s administrative block but the few people seen going into the school didn’t take notice of the container.

Our reporter who went to the school around 11 am on Wednesday also observed that majority of the staff seen in groups close to the admin block were not wearing their face masks and didn’t maintain physical distance.

‎Tall grasses were seen within the school premises and along the students hostels due to months of closure but teachers in the school denied our correspondent access to the hostels.

  • Yola

A visit to Murtala Muhammed Ramat College (GMMC) Yola on Thursday showed no evidence of the required guidelines for COVID-19 at the hostels.

Daily Trust observed that the academic area had water for handwashing but the hostels did not have such provision.

The exit classes who were writing the terminal examination sleep close to one another on plastic mats because the hostels have only few beds and mattresses, Daily Trust learnt.

The students however called on government to provide additional beds and mattresses to make them feel comfortable for better academic performance.

When contacted, the GMMC principal, Abbas Abubakar, said the school had been fumigated while the state government provided water containers, disinfecting chemicals as well as temperature checking device, adding that the equipment would be deployed to the hostels as soon as students resume.

He further said that the Ministry of Education had organised sessions to sensitize teachers on preventive measures against the COVID-19.

“But we require security personnel to assist with enforcement of facemasks and ensure compliance with other safety measures at the school gate, especially for visitors. We experience shortage of beds but our Old Boys (Class of 78) donated some beds,” he added.

  • Enugu

At the Federal Government College Enugu (FGCE), the school authority is said to view with seriousness the issue of students who might want to toy with the Covid-19 protocols.

The principal of the college, Alhaji Raji Muritala, was not in when our correspondent visited the school.

It was gathered that during WAEC exams, the students all wore their face masks and now that they are coming back for NECO, it is mandatory for every student to wear the face mask.

“If a student doesn’t have the face mask, such student will be told to leave the classroom. Teachers are instructed to caution any student who doesn’t comply with the COVID-19 protocols,” said a teacher.

  • No Protocols at the Hostels

But a drive to the male hostels showed that a good number of the boys were far from obeying the Covid-19 pandemic protocols.

Our correspondent observed that no buckets of water and hand sanitizers were placed at the entry points to the hostels. The situation was similar at the female hostels.

Several of the boys who were asked why they were not wearing the face masks merely laughed and walked away.

Even a lady, who came with some food in take-away packages, apparently from the canteen, accompanied by some female students, did not wear face masks when they handed to the secretary the package for the principal.

Meanwhile, the school asked the students to bring one bottle of hand sanitizer 250ml and five face masks.

Other things to be brought include detergent, toilet rolls, disinfectants, mopping sticks and more.

It was observed that the school has no functional borehole and the staff and students depend on water supply tankers who supply water to them daily.

  • Port Harcourt

The management of the Federal Government College Port Harcourt has put everything in place to ensure smooth resumption of academic activities for senior and junior secondary students as directed by the federal government.

Our reporter learnt that the classrooms, laboratory and hostels have been arranged in a way that both students and teachers will observe all the COVID-19 protocols.

Though the reporter could not gain access to the hostel but a staff who spoke with our reporter under the condition of anonymity said: “We have tried our best to put everything required to observe COVID-19 protocols. We have fumigated all our hostels and classrooms. We have procured washing hand buckets, social distancing has been observed in hostel bed spacing as well as all the classrooms. We are ready for resumption.”

  • Sokoto

At the Federal Government College Sokoto, both academic and non-academic staff were trained on how to observe COVID-19 protocols in preparation for students’ resumption.

Our reporter who visited the college on Wednesday, observed a big banner, depicting COVID-19 protocols at the gate of the school while hand washing equipment and sanitizer were kept at the entrance for visitors, staff and students to wash their hands before coming into the school premises.

At the hostels and classes, the school complied with the physical distance protocol as our reporter measured five feet in between the double-deck bed in hostels while hand wash equipment were equally provided at the dormitories, dining hall and assembly as well as examination halls of the school.

The college also provide isolation centre in case of any emergency.

According to the principal of the college, Uba Ibrahim, they have made adequate arrangements in line with the COVID-19 protocols.

“We directed resuming students to come along with two face masks each and hand Sanitizer in additional to the ones that we will provide them. At the hostel, it will be one student per double-deck bed and we are complying with the two meters distance in between bed spaces,” he said.

He also said the students will take their meal in batches to avoid congestion and there will not be assembly at all.

“We provided our staff with face masks and sanitizers and no visitor will be allowed into the school premises without face mask, including parents and guardians of students,” he said

“All the classes have been fumigated ahead of their resumption,” he added.

The story was the same with the Federal Science College Sokoto. Our reporter who visited the school observed hand washing facilities drafted at different places within the school premises.

According to the principal, Mr. Esom Chukwu, they have directed their students to come along with face masks while the school would provide them with hand sanitizers.