By Gabriel Dike; Fred Ezeh, Abuja; Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan; Chijioke Agwu, Abakaliki; Emmanuel Adeyemi, Lokoja; Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu; Felix Ikem, Nsukka; Obinna Odogwu, Awka
Public and private schools resumed for academic activities, yesterday, despite fears expressed by some stakeholders over the rising cases of Coronavirus pandemic.
Many schools recorded low turnout of pupils as some parents held onto their wards due to fears expressed by the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), Nigeria Union of Teachers and other health personnel.
Many pupils were seen in classrooms in some schools at Iyana Ipaja and Agege without face mask. However, few pupils did not comply with COVID-19 protocols and were sent home while others were forced at the gate to put on theirs masks, wash their hands and apply sanitiser.
In Lagos, the Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Folashade Adefisayo and Ministry of Education officials went round some public primary and secondary schools to ensure compliance with COVID-19 safety measures.
Among the schools visited include Dairy Farm Senior Secondary School, Agege, District Junior College, Agege, Sango Junior Seconadry School, Agege, Sango Senior Seconadry School, Agege, Yewa Junior High School, Agege, Amosun Secondary School, Agege, Unity Junior School, Agege and other schools to assess the compliance level.
Adefisayo said schools were doing their best in the area of compliance with safety measures, adding ‘’in primary schools, it is more challenging, while in secondary, we have matured students, thus, it is less challenging to deal with them.
Schools in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) resumed in continuation of academic activities with an impressive compliance with the COVID-19 safety protocols.
At the Government Day Secondary School, Karu, Abuja, Daily Sun observed that teachers and other non teaching staff were positioned at the entrance gate ensuring that students washed and sanitised their hands before entering the school.
So was also the situation at Junior Secondary School, Jikwoyi, Abuja, and LEA Primary School, Karu (opposite Karu Market). Students was divided into morning and evening classes.
Also, compliance level at some private primary and secondary schools visited was impressive, as teachers insisted that children must be sanitised before entering the school.
Patience Ekeh, a parent at one of the private schools (name withheld) in Orozo, Abuja, said it was difficult decision for her to release her child because of the fear of being infected with COVID-19.
She said: “I never wanted to bring my daughter to school. I was afraid of her safety in the school. It took the encouragement and intervention of my husband and neighbours to allow me release her to the school.
Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of Education has warned schools against demanding for COVID-19 test before allowing children in school, explaining that no COVID-19 test is required for resumption of students.
Spokesman of the Ministry, Ben Goong, in a statement, yesterday, warned schools requesting the test as pre-requisite for resumption to stop, forthwith, and ensure that basic safety protocols are provided for students.
“No COVID-19 test is required for returning students to be admitted into their schools. Only temperature checks should be carried out on students and any other person crossing the school gate.
School authorities should, therefore, refrain from asking students or parents to undergo COVID-19 test before they are accepted in their schools.”
Public and private schools in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State resumed and complied with COVID-19 protocols. In some of the schools visited, pupils were seen with their face mask, while social distances was observed in the sitting arrangements in classrooms.
At St. Theresa’s College Nsukka, the principal Rev. Fr. Ezikanyi Mellitus, told Daily Sun that academic activities had started immediately as students were already receiving lesson.
Majority of pupils and schools in Oyo State substantially complied with the COVID-19 protocols as total number of laboratory confirmed cases rose to 4,695 in the state, 573 still on admission, 4,054 discharged and 68 deaths.
In schools visited in Ibadan metropolis, hand-washing facilities were provided at the entrances. The management of the schools also used infrared thermometers to check temperature of the students, teachers and visitors to the schools.
At Oba Akinbiyi Model School, Premier Hotel Junction, Mokola, Ibadan, about 98 per cent of the students wore their face masks. Three points were provided for hand-washing, apart from infrared thermometer that was used to check temperature of those going into the school premises.
At the Methodist Grammar School, Bodija, Ibadan, infrared thermometer was used to screen the reporter as he entered the school premises.
In Imo, the state government said that schools in the state, which were expected to resume, yesterday, will now reopen on Monday, next week. The shift in resumption date was caused by alleged increase in Coronavirus infections in the Owerri Municipal, Owerri North and Owerri West Local Government Areas.
Government said that it considered the wellbeing of people of the state and, therefore, decided to watch the situation.
There was low turn out of pupils and students in many schools across Abakaliki the Ebonyi state capital as schools resumed yesterday.
When Daily Sun visited some of the schools such such as the Urban Secondary School Abakaliki, Presco Secondary School and Nnodo Secondary School, all in Abakaliki, the state capital, items such buckets of water and hand sanitisers were stationed in strategic places as part of efforts to check the spread of Coronavirus among students.
But in Abai State, public schools could not resume as earlier announced by government following strike embarked on by teachers in the state.
The leadership of the Nigeria Union of Teachers had earlier threatened to embark on industrial action if the state government fails to pay their outstanding salary arrears and other allowances.
In Lokoja, most teachers and students wore face mask with adequate provisions of sanitisers, soap and running water made at the entrance and strategic areas of the schools visited.
Meanwhile, the state government has expressed satisfaction with the level of compliance by schools who resume academic activities across the state.
Regardless, the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS) has assured parents and guardians of the safety of their children and wards as schools resume for the second term of the 2020/2021 session in Lagos.
Chairman of Amuwo-Odofin chapter of NAPPS, Mrs. Ajoke Adeyemi, gave the assurance in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). She said private schools had kept to the COVID-19 safety protocols and guidelines to protect both the staff and students against contracting the virus.
In Anambra, schools resumed for academic activities, but only the teachers were in schools. The pupils and students are to resume on a later date.
The state governor, Chief Willie Obiano, had earlier announced that schools would resume on February 1, during one of his broadcasts on COVID-19, but later changed the resumption date to give school managers enough time to make adequate arrangements and preparations before resumption.