The announcement by the Federal Government that outgoing students across secondary schools would resume on August 4, 2020, to prepare for their final exams, starting from August 17, was greeted with excitement in some quarters and knocks in other places.
The decision came after the government kept going forth and back on the resumption date.
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Officials said before schools would resume, after a long period of a break as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, safety protocols must be put in place as announced by the Presidential Task Force and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
Daily Trust Saturday gathered that the announcement was made after commissioners of education across the states said they were ready and had met 80 percent of the protocols, as well as gotten certification from the NCDC.
‘Nigeria not ready’
However, the President of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Prof Innocent Ujah, opposed the resumption, saying Nigeria was not ready because of the poor level of compliance to NCDC guidelines.
He said the government was reopening schools because of pressure from teachers, proprietors and parents.
Although some teachers and parents interviewed by Daily Trust Saturday welcomed the development saying it is long overdue, many regretted that little or no preparation has been made for students in rural areas.
Mixed reactions in Kano
There were mixed reactions from teachers and parents in the rural areas in Kano on the level of preparedness of schools to reopen for outgoing students.
A teacher in one of the government-owned schools in Gwarzo Local Government Area, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said with few days to the resumption date as directed by the Federal Government, there was nothing on the ground to show that the state was ready to reopen schools for outgoing students.
“Preparation should have been on top gear by now since we are talking about August 4, but I can tell you that there is nothing, either on our part or the parents on that regard. We have not been briefed.
You are talking about a disease that easily spreads due to congestion. And I can tell you that in some of our classes we have over 100 students, with some seats having three to four students. Then, tell me how we would go about that when nothing is said or done yet?” He asked.
Also, a parent in Kura Local Government, Malam Bashir Kura, whose child will be sitting for the Common Entrance Examination, said there was nothing to show on the preparedness of schools to open.
“My child is in a private school, and up till now, the school has not contacted us for any information on possible resumption. To be frank with you, I did not see any preparation in the public schools either,” he said.
However, another parent in Bebeji Local Government, Malam Jamilu Tiga, said there was nothing much to be worried about. He promised to give the government the necessary cooperation for a safe reopening of schools in the state.
Kano government react
When contacted, the commissioner for education in the state, Sunusi Saidu Kiru, said schools would reopen for outgoing students as directed by the Federal Government, but not necessarily on August 4 since the exams would commence on August 17.
“This was our agreement during the council meeting on Wednesday. We are making arrangements to call all the principals of both private and public schools to give them facemasks and hand sanitisers and tell them the guidelines, as well as ensure that each school has fulfilled the requirements,” he said.
He said a total of 199 public schools would reopen, out of which 33 are boarding. He added that proprietors of private schools were also contacted to submit the number of schools that would sit for the final exams.
Lack of preparedness worry Teachers in Rivers
In Rivers State, a teacher in Government Secondary School, Oyigbo, Chris Nwankwo, said there were no precautionary measures in place to contain the spread of COVID-19 when the school resumes.
He said they were also yet to be briefed by the State Secondary School Board on the planned resumption. He added that they only heard it in the media but were yet to receive a directive from the government.
Another teacher in Community Secondary School, Obete, Justina Ekekeocha, said they were ready to go back to school as soon as they get the go-ahead order.
She, however, expressed fear that COVID-19 may spread among students as soon as schools resume, given the fact that the government has not put anything on the ground to observe all the health protocols.
A community leader in Oyigbo, who did not want his name mentioned, said the virus may further spread if students were allowed to go back to school.
“Honestly, the Rivers State Government is not ready for school resumption. I say this because I have not seen any sign that schools would resume on August 4 as directed by the Federal Government.
There is no directive on how schools would resume in the state, or how students would observe all the COVID-19 protocols,’’ he said.
He called on the Federal Government to jettison the idea of reopening schools, saying that many states are not ready for that.
‘No preparation in Kebbi’
In Kebbi State, there is no preparation yet for school resumption, as an official announcement in that regard is yet to be made.
A parent in Jega Local Government, Shehu Usman, told Daily Trust Saturday that the government had not made any announcement on how schools would reopen for outgoing students and pupils.
The president of the All Nigeria Confederation of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS), Kebbi State chapter, Abubakar Sambo, also said there was no circular from the state government on the resumption of schools for outgoing students.
Nasarawa teachers sensitized
In Nasarawa State, Asabe Ali, a teacher, said they had been sensitized on the radio to enhance hygiene and physical distancing.
A parent, Alhaji Jamilu Lafiyan Barebare, said he had taught his children what to do to enhance social distancing and hygiene to guard against contracting coronavirus or any other ailment. He said they had really adapted to the condition as they rarely go out, and when they are going for an errand, they wear protective gear.
Also, the state commissioner for education, Hajiya Fatu Sabo, said they had been encouraging students in both rural and urban areas to maintain hygienic conditions.
“We are happy that many parents and students are heeding to our call to abide by the laid down protocols,’’ she said.
Compliance in Cross River
In Cross River, the community leader of Ikang area of Akpabuyo Local Government Area, Chief Lazarus Akpan said, “We welcome the plan of government to resume schools to enable outgoing students take their exams.
“We have imbibed the COVID-19 protocols, but the government would have to give support in the form of personal protective equipment.”
A teacher in Calabar, Mr Ephraim Udo, lamented that students had forgotten much of what they were taught, while teachers also need to refresh. He said they would be required to do double work as they prepare the students for the examinations.
Mixed feelings in Edo
Also, in Edo State, parents and teachers received the announcement on the resumption of schools for outgoing students across the country with mixed feelings.
A parent, Samuel Igbinosa, said it was a welcome development because children had stayed long at home. “I have prepared by purchasing facemasks and hand sanitizers, among other things. I have also educated them on COVID-19 protocols.”
Another parent, Monday Ajun, said he was prepared, but the school would do more work to ensure that the children are safe.
“I have everything ready for them, from facemasks to sanitisers and other safety kits. I have two children and they are well aware of COVID-19 protocols. But the question is: When all the children mix up, will they observe the protocols?
The schools must put the necessary measures in place, such as hand-washing basins and soaps, inferred thermometer, among other facilities that would guarantee physical distancing. To ensure that these facilities are available, government at all levels should inspect the schools, especially those that are privately owned,’’ he said.
Concerns of teachers in Benue
In Benue State, parents, teachers and other stakeholders in rural areas have expressed concern over the preparedness of schools to resume for outgoing students next week.
A parent in Otada community of Otukpo Local Government Area, Aboje Ogili, said he was happy that some of his children would soon return to school, but the authorities concerned should put basic facilities in place to prevent the students from contracting COVID-19.
“I will ensure that my children resume school with the necessary items, such as facemasks and sanitisers. I will also educate them on how to stay safe outside the home. But various schools must endeavour to create space for physical distancing and ensure that other protocols are observed,’’ he said.
Also, a teacher in Ogobia community of Ugboju in Otukpo, Ekoja Victor, said schools in the rural areas should be disinfected, more classrooms and desks provided, as well as adequate water and sanitisers.