Schools have been closed since March following the spike of coronavirus. The closure led to the suspension of academic activities while students adopt other measures to keep abreast of their studies.
The students, who should have sat for their senior/junior secondary school examinations, were caught in the middle of the pandemic with their progression at stake. This has led to clamour since the second phase of the easing of lockdown by the president, for schools to reopen.
The Federal Ministry of Education in its guidelines for schools and learning facilities reopening after COVID-19 pandemic closures put in place policies to ensure the safety to the students. These measures include time for closing and opening of schools, safe distancing, staggered attendance, and feeding.
Though no date has been stated for the reopening of school, states have been preparing to reopen their schools for graduating students to sit for their final year examinations.
As various states prepare to reopen schools for graduating students and pupils to write their exams following the gradual easing of COVID-19 restrictions, measures are reportedly being put in place to avert spike in the pandemic. To this effect, the Federal Government presented guidelines to the National Assembly, which included the physical distancing rule of at least two metres, use of personal protective equipment, among others.
In Gombe State, measures are also being taken before schools would reopen for graduating students and pupils.
According to the commissioner for education in the state, Dr Habu Dahiru, measures put in place include fumigation of schools, training of teachers and students on the observance of COVID-19 protocols, such as wearing of facemasks, maintenance of physical distancing and reporting anyone with symptoms of the disease to the appropriate authorities.
He said the state government was also adopting radio learning in selected stations for students yet to return to school.
He also inaugurated a 10-member committee to look into the modalities and protocols for re-opening all the schools in the state.
Daily Trust Saturday gathered that the committee’s terms of reference include suggesting a safety method for gradual full re-opening of primary and secondary schools in the state. The committee will also make recommendations on how to address and bridge the gap in teaching and learning process caused by the sudden closure of all schools during the period of COVID-19 lockdown.
Members of the committee were also mandated to develop an effective monitoring strategy to ensure that all schools comply with approved recommendations before, during and after resumption.
In Cross River State, following the announcement that graduating pupils and students may take their examinations soon, there has been excitement amongst students and parents. Students who spoke with Daily Trust Saturday said they could not wait to go back to school.
Parents who spoke with our correspondent regretted that their wards had lost several months due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Two junior secondary school students said a good number of their colleagues were not properly prepared for exams because they have not been studying at home.
Peter Amos, 16, said that since schools were closed, he did not have the urge to constantly study at home.
“I must confess that I have not really looked at my books since there has not been a clear indication of when schools would reopen. However, I trust myself. I can use a week of serious revision to recover as we look forward to exam dates.’’
Also, a 15-year-old female student of Great Children Academy, Calabar, Emem Akpan Udo, said she spent most of her time to help her mother in the market. Although she is not fully prepared for exams, Emem was happy to hear that government might soon announce dates for examinations for graduating students.
“I am happy to hear that schools would soon reopen, even though I have hardly prepared for the examinations. Anyhow, I can’t wait for schools to resume,’’ she said.
Again, Wilson Umoh, a teacher, said although the sit-at-home had greatly affected him, he was more concerned about his students because many of them might not come out with good grades as they had not prepared well.
The Ogun State Government said it was prepared to reopen schools for graduating students and pupils.
The special adviser to the governor on public communications, Remmy Hazzan, told Daily Trust Saturday that commissioners of education in South-West states met to strategise on how schools could safely reopen in the region.
Hazzan said one of the rules for resumption of schools was physical distancing among the affected students.
“If we have a school, for example, that has a population of 500 and the number of final year students is 100, it means the entire school is available for the final year students alone to use. We can now begin to spread them in such a manner that guarantees physical distancing. This is possible,’’ he told our correspondent.
He, however, declared that “government is not ready for full school resumption until scientific proof guarantees that.”
Also, some of the conditions given by teachers in public schools in the state are compulsory use of personal protective equipment, provision of temperature detectors and disinfection of school environments.
Other conditions are provision water, alcohol-based sanitisers and training of teachers on how virus spreads. Parents must also provide their wards with facemasks. And defaulting students would not be allowed into the school premises.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the All Nigeria Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS), Kebbi State branch, Abubakar Sambo, said preparation for reopening of schools was on course. He added that government had put safety measures in place. He said schools in the state had started wearing new looks ahead of resumption.
Sambo expressed his association’s displeasure on the recent change of decision by the Federal Government on the resumption of schools for graduating students and pupils, saying it would negatively affect academic calendar.
When contacted, the commissioner for basic and secondary education in the state, Muhammed Magawata Aliero, said the state had gone far in its preparation to reopen schools for graduating students and pupils. According to him, to actualise this, a meeting was held with all the school principals in the state.
But some parents in the state are with the opinion that the state is not fully ready to reopen schools, even without the recent Federal Government’s change of decision.
Umar Abdullahi, whose daughter is in primary six in Abubakar Atiku Bagudu Model School, told our correspondent that measures had not been put in place for safe reopening of schools in the state. He said pupils who were earlier asked to return to school went back home because the school was under lock and key.
Also, Malam Musa said his daughter in Senior Secondary School (SSS3) in a public school was sent back home on arrival due to lack of preparation.