From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
The year 2020 has been a very remarkable year, a year which many, the world over will not forget in a hurry.
It is the year many families either lost loved ones, jobs and businesses to the Wuhan virus known as COVID-19 pandemic.
And for school children, their teachers and parents, the impact of COVID-19 cannot be overemphasized as all Nigerian schools lost a whole session to the pandemic.
Although, primary schools have finally resumed a new session across Nigeria, coping with or adhering to and enforcing COVID-19 protocols especially in primary schools has largely become a herculean task and a major challenge.
At St. Ann’s Primary School Adikpo, one of the public foundation schools in the headquarters of Kwande Local Government Area, of Benue State, pupils and teachers are still trying to cope with the new normal of the COVID-19 protocols.
To them, the issues of social distancing, constant hand washing, wearing of facemasks and rubbing the hands several times a day with hand sanitizers as well as avoiding crowded places is what the school which plus host to 490 pupils will.habe to learn o we time.
The school which is already writing its first term examination, according to Mrs. Pagher Lucy, Assistant Headteacher said COVID-19 has negatively impacted teaching and learning process.
“We have not been able to train the pupils as we should. We were in second term when schools were abruptly closed because of COVID-19 pandemic. It also affected the third term and part of this term,” Mrs. Lucy said.
When our correspondent visited the school on Monday, no pupil was seen with a facemask. However, hand washing facilities were positioned in strategic places within the school premises.
“We have provided facilities for hand washing. It has helped in keeping the pupils very neat,” the Assistant Headteacher said, adding that the students “are also afraid (of the COVID-19 pandemic).”
Although, both teachers and students are excited to have resumed school activities, the major problem, as explained by Mrs. Lucy is payment of school levies.
“We are happy that school activities have resumed. Of course, we have lost a lot in terms of instruction and learning, given that we spent a lot of time at home. Now that we have resumed though, the major problem is payment of levies by parents,” she went on.
Mrs. Lucy who ensured that the body temperature of our reporter was checked before allowing her into her office maintained that it was the instruction from the education authority.
Posted on the right sidewall close to her office is a notice that specify three temperature ratings and their implications.
Top on the notice is the “normal temperature” rating (of 36 – 37.4 Degree Celsius), followed by “slight fever temperature (37.5 – 38.5 Degree Celsius)” and lastly, “high fever temperature (38.6 – 42.9 Degree Celsius),” and the corresponding indicator lights of green, yellow backlight, red backlight respectively.
She explained that there had been no known record or suspected case of the viral disease either in the school or within Kwande local education area.
Established by the Catholics, and later taken up by the Benue State Government, St. Ann’s primary school is one of the oldest foundation public schools in Kwande local government area.
Like many others in the area, the school became a ghost of itself and for more than two academic terms, both students and pupils only desired to resume school.
Anjoko Terfa, 10, is a Primary Five pupil of the school. Terfa said he is happy to have resumed studies.
“I am happy that school has resumed. Now I can continue my education, finish in time and then go to secondary school,” Terfa who hopes to become a lawyer in future quipped.
When asked why he was not wearing a face mask, the Primary Five pupil said he is not usually comfortable wearing the mask as he finds it difficult to breathe through it.
He however noted that he had made it a habit to constantly wash his hands from the hand washing facilities donated by UNICEF and placed within the school premises.
Although pupils are free from lessons during break time, sporting activities are not allowed. And this is where Aondona Queen, 13, a Primary six is concerned.
Nothing is the same again. From long time at home to several restrictions back in school, Queen is concerned about constant reminders from her teachers about social distancing and body contact.
She is nevertheless happy that classes have resumed. And although, she has not paid her fees, she is allowed access to examination. Her parents combine farming, with petty trading to make ends meet.
One of the teachers in the school, would rather not speak about COVID-19 because it already has done its worse.
In his refusal, the teacher succeeded in making reference to what appears to be the general belief of the people; Year 2020 should be removed from the world’s calendar.
Indeed, since February this year, when COVID-19 was declared a national emergency in the country, things have not been the same again. Education and religious institutions had been closed for prolong period of time, with ban on social activities, markets and restrictions on movement.
So, although, academic activities have resumed in the education sector in Benue State, COVID-19 has introduced a new regime, even in schools.
Queen, for instance is looking up to when she will have to liberty to enjoy her old way of playing around during break with her friends.