States were on Sunday divided over the Federal Government’s directive that the Senior Secondary School 3 pupils should resume on Tuesday in preparation for the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations starting on August 17.
Findings by The PUNCH show that SSS3 pupils in Lagos, Benue, Kwara and Ogun states are preparing for resumption on Tuesday, while WASSCE candidates would resume in Cross River State on Monday (today).
Enugu, Gombe and Rivers states have yet to announce the resumption dates for their pupils, unlike Ekiti State, where pupils will resume on August 10.
The PUNCH’s investigations, however, showed that many state governments had yet to provide running water, hand-washing points and other non-pharmaceutical materials stipulated in the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 guidelines for resumption of schools.
Recall that the Federal Government had on Monday said SSS3 pupils would resume on Tuesday. The Minister of State (Education), Emeka Nwajiuba, however, explained that only COVID-19 protocol compliant schools would resume.
According to him, schools must provide running water and hand-washing points sanitisers.
On Sunday, our correspondents observed that many state governments had not met all the PTF guidelines.
No sign of preparation in Benue schools
In Benue State, the state government has not put in place necessary measures that could prevent the spread of COVID-19 among pupils and teachers on their resumption.
The state government, through the Commissioner for Education, Professor Dennis Ityavyar, had last week announced Tuesday as the date for reopening of Primary 6, JSS 3 and SSS 3 classes.
But one of our correspondents, who went to some schools in Makurdi, the state capital, on Sunday, reported that there were no signs indicating the preparedness of the state government to reopen schools in line with the Federal Government’s protocols.
It was gathered that government had yet to fumigate any school in the state neither was there anything to suggest that pupils would be resuming on Tuesday.
At the Government Model Secondary School, Makurdi, there was no hand-washing points at the entrance of the school or the classes. No hand sanitisers were seen in and around the classes.
Also, at the Mount Saint Gabriel Secondary School, Makurdi, St. Joseph Secondary School, Nyiman, and the LGA Pilot School, Wurukum, the situation was the same, as there was no facility to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on the premises.
At the Arabic School, Lobi Quarters, the gate was locked, but a peep into the premises through the fence indicated that the environment was bushy which might pose a serious danger to pupils on resumption.
Efforts to speak to the Commissioner for Education, Ityavyar, proved abortive as he could not be reached on the telephone. He did not respond to the SMS sent to him.
Give us PPE, others if you want us to resume, Gombe tells FG
In Gombe State schools, including Orji Secondary, Gombe and Government Science, Lakanje, Kaltugo, there was no provision for hand-washing materials.
But the state Commissioner for Education, Dr Habu Dahiru, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the state had yet to decide on the date when its SSS3 pupils would resume.
He stated, “If the Federal Government will give us what is required to resume at their stipulated time, we will. But if they can’t give us a penny and they say open on August 4, I don’t think that is fair. If they say open schools on August 4 and the NCDC (Nigeria Centre for Disease Control), prescribes necessary things, states should be given sometime to get them before schools are reopened.”
There are no teachers to handle extra-classes – Sokoto teacher
Also, in Sokoto State, The PUNCH correspondent observed that schools had not started making preparations for resumption of SSS3 pupils.
The Sokoto State Government has announced Tuesday as resumption date for SSS 3 pupils.
A visit to some of the schools clearly indicated that they were not in compliance with the guidelines.
At the Sultan Attahiru Secondary School, Sokoto, there were no wash- hand basins at the school entrance on Sunday.
A worker resident in the school said, “There are no wash-hand stations either with soap and sanitizers within the school premises. A water reservoir is even a no-go area.
“It is easier to adopt physical distancing in the classrooms, meaning we can use other classes since it is not all the pupils that are resuming, but do we have enough teachers to handle the extra classes?” he asked.
The SSS3 pupils in Cross River State are to resume on Monday, August 3. The Special Adviser Education to Governor Ben Ayade, Castro Ezama, said, “They will resume tomorrow to prepare for their exams.”
In Ekiti State, the state government stepped up preparations for resumption of schools on August 10. It was gathered that materials such as soap, sanitisers and infrared thermometers would be distributed to public schools this week.
The state Commissioner for Education, Foluso Daramola, in a statement titled, ‘Press release on the reopening of schools in Ekiti State’ on Sunday said the training of focal persons for the schools would begin on Tuesday.
He stated, “Principals/headteachers are also to arrange their halls/hostel dormitories in conformity with COVID-19 protocols for physical/social distancing. They are also to adhere strictly to all the guidelines already distributed to both private and public schools.”
On its part, the Oyo State Government explained the need to adjust the school calendar in the state to ensure uniformity with the recent adjustment made by the Federal Government.
The Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology in the state, Olasunkanmi Olaleye, said this in a statement on Sunday titled, ‘School reopening, Oyo government hails teachers, provides details of new school calendar.’
He stated, “Terminal classes, including the Senior Secondary School 3; Junior Secondary 3 and Primary 6 pupils resumed classes in Oyo State on July 6, despite the alarms raised by the Federal Government and some education stakeholders.”
The Enugu State Commissioner for Education, Prof Uche Eze, said the government would soon announce the date the pupils in exit classes would resume, adding that decontamination of schools commenced last Friday.
In Lagos State, when one of our correspondents visited Anwarul Islam Girls High School, Ojokoro, on Sunday, he noticed that the school did not make provision for hand-washing points within the school or outside the school gate.
The classrooms were also not marked to give room for social distancing among the pupils as of 6pm when the correspondent visited there.
At the Lagos State Model Senior College, Meiran, some parents brought their children who would resume.
The Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, had on Friday. said the government would provide face masks for all schools.
No running water, hand-washing points in Ogun schools
In Ogun State, none of the schools visited had sanitisers and hand-washing points at their the entrances.
Schools visited in Abeokuta included Lafenwa High School, Premier Grammar School, Unity High School, St. John Anglican High School and Reverend Kuti Memorial Grammar School.
When contacted over the development, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Kunle Somorin, said, “No school is in session. Schools are resuming on Tuesday. Teachers and school administrators will be there as from tomorrow (Monday) Ogun.”
We will fix them on Monday, says govt
Also reacting, the Special Adviser to Governor on Basic and Secondary Education, Mrs. Ronke Soyombo, said the items would be fixed on Monday.