Mixed re­ac­tions trout planned re­sump­tion of schools

Weekly Trust - - Feature - Ti­j­jani Ibrahim (Kano), Vic­tor Edozie Port (Har­court), Aliyu M. Ha­m­agam (Birnin Kebbi), Ibra­heem Hamza Muham­mad (Lafia), Eyo Charles (Cal­abar), Us­man A. Bello (Benin) & Hope Abah Em­manuel (Makurdi)

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 gov­ern­ment kept going forth and back on the re­sump­tion date. Of­fi­cials said be­fore schools would re­sume, af­ter a long pe­riod of 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 per cent of the pro­to­cols, as well as got­ten cer­ti­fi­ca­tion from the NCDC.

How­ever, 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 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.

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 gov­ern­men­towned 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 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 gov­ern­ment the nec­es­sary co­op­er­a­tion for a safe re­open­ing of schools in the state.

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.

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 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-head or­der.

She, how­ever, ex­pressed fear that COVID-19 may spread among stu­dents as soon as schools re­sume, given the fact that gov­ern­ment has not put any­thing on 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.

In Kebbi State, there is no prepa­ra­tion yet for school re­sump­tion, as of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment in that re­gard is yet to be made.

A par­ent in Jega Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment, Shehu Us­man, told Daily Trust Satur­day that 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.

In Nasarawa State, As­abe Ali, a teacher, said they had been sen­si­tised on 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 gears.

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.

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 COVID19 pro­to­cols, but 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 do dou­ble work as they pre­pare the stu­dents for the ex­am­i­na­tions.

Also, in Edo State, par­ents and teach­ers re­ceived the an­nounce­ment on 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 sani­tis­ers, 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.

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.

There is no di­rec­tive on how schools would re­sume in the state, or how stu­dents would ob­serve all the COVID-19 pro­to­cols,’’ he said

PHOTO: Ab­dul Musa

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