COVID-19: Anxiety as schools get ready to re-open
Anxiety is sweeping across the country as senior secondary school class 3 students get ready to resume on Tuesday in preparation for their final examinations.
All schools had been shut in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But following safety guidelines developed by the federal and state governments, it was agreed that SSS3 students can return to enable them prepare for their terminal examinations.
The state governments are already fumigating the schools in fulfillment of one of the conditions for reopening.
Other measures are: Training of teachers and other personnel on safety and hygiene measures; establishing a COVID-19 referral system; provision of an ambulance and access to a testing/isolation/treatment centre; provision of adequate water, sanitation, and hygienic (WASH) facilities across school premises; establishment of staff/students committee for regular surveillance, monitoring and enforcement of COVID-19 guidelines.
The ministries of education in the various states have spent the last few days fumigating classrooms and school compounds.
The Permanent Secretary, Office of Environmental Services in Lagos State, Mrs. Aderonke Odeneye, said yesterday that the majority of public secondary schools in the six educational districts in the state have been reached.
“The fumigation exercise which is on-going, preparatory to resumption next week for terminal classes will continue after the West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) Exams,” she said in a statement.
The continuous exercise which commenced in late June has been effected in all the Model colleges across the six educational districts in the state.
Already fumigated are Oduduwa Junior Secondary School, Mushin, New Era Girls Secondary School, Surulere, Oriwu Junior and Senior Model College, Ikorodu.
Others include Lagos State Civil Service Senior Model College, Igbogbo, Igbo- Owu Junior and Senior Secondary School, Mushin and Junior Model College, Igbogbo.
She asked school management to provide hand sanitizers in all classrooms and hostels as well as ensure that students are tutored on the need to constantly sanitize their hands after every educational activity in the classrooms and wear nose masks always.
“Schools are to enforce physical distancing where applicable and also provide facilities to reduce the risk of the infection amongst teachers and students”.
“Disinfection of shoes and feet should be strongly encouraged frequently for each student to reduce bacterial infection that could lead to any ailment during their stay in the school”.
The state government has also directed all SS3 and Technical Studies (TEC3) students in both day and boarding schools in the State to resume tomorrow.
Education Commissioner, Folasade Adefisayo, said this was to allow for revision classes and adequate preparation ahead of their forthcoming West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
Adefisayo explained that this directive became imperative due to the newly announced date by the West African Examination Council (WAEC) for the 2020 WASSCE scheduled to commence on the 17th of August, 2020.
According to her, “Only SS3 and Technical Study Three (TEC3) students are permitted to resume for the Day and Boarding Schools on the 3rd of August for revision classes and examinations”.
While imploring all schools in the State to follow the required public health guidelines and protocols for re-opening of schools for this category of students, Adefisayo stressed that the government is considering the option of using the First and Second Term examination results or continuous assessment to promote students in other exit classes.
The Commissioner revealed that various meetings have been held with stakeholders in the education, health and safety sectors in a bid to ensure that adequate precautionary measures are put in place to ensure the safety of the students before resumption.
“The Office of Education Quality Assurance will be going round all the schools across the State to monitor the level of safety and protocol compliance expected to be put in place by both private and public schools”, she asserted.
Fumigation also in progress in Ondo
The Ondo State Government has also embarked on fumigation of classrooms.
The Ministry of Education, in a circular, said: “As a way of preventing the spread of COVID-19 pandemic among the students, schools are to open from 8:00am to 2:00pm, Mondays to Fridays; disinfection and fumigation of all facilities must be carried out at least a week before resumption; hand washing spot (s) should be provided, to guarantee regular washing of hands by learners and teachers.”
We’re set in Cross River, says Task Force chair
The Chairman of the COVID-19 Response and Task Force team in Cross River State, Dr. Betta Edu, says all hands are on deck in the state for the resumption by SS3 students.
Speaking by phone, Edu said: “There are two aspects to it for us. We want to quickly, at first, do a summarized IPCT – training; that is Infection Prevention and Control training for all the head teachers of schools, both private and public. That is for schools participating in the WAEC examination. We hope to work with the Ministry of Education.”
“Secondly, we have also made a lot of face shield and facemask which were initially distributed; presently we are back at the factory to see how we can produce enough to cover all the schools, both private and public secondary schools across the state. What is very outstanding is that our teachers and all the schools have to comply with the protocols.”
“Some schools have made provision for an automated sanitizing corridor where you go through and get disinfected, but most of the schools are going to be using water and soap to wash their hands as well as hand sanitizers. Every child who comes to school is expected to wear a face mask before coming into the school.
We will try and make provisions for these across the board. At the same time, we have advised schools to split the students. So if you have 30 students in a class, you have to split them and space the sitting arrangement.”
Asked to give her confidence level if the state would be able to provide free face shield and mask as promised to school pupils and teachers, the commissioner said, “Presently, we don’t have that number manufactured yet in the state garment factory. But with the mass production going on now, round the clock in the garment factory, we are confident we should meet the number.
Remember we are not only producing for schools in the state capital alone; we are covering the entire state. For the face mask, we can meet that, but the shield requires more work and technicalities. For the start, we may not be able to get every child to use the face shield, but we will get all of them to use the face mask.”
On provision for running water in schools which students and teachers would use in compliance with the COVID-19 response protocols, the health commissioner said: “Most of the schools within the metropolis do have water taps available.
Those in the rural areas, most of them do not have, so for now they will be depending on the water in the bucket tap with soap to wash their hands and the hand sanitizer as well.”
The Anambra State Government in a statement in Awka said: “Only SS3 students in approved public, private and mission schools are to resume in the State.
“Boarders are to return on Tuesday 4th August 2020, while classes will resume for boarders and day students on Wednesday 5th August 2020.
“However, schools that have not complied with the COVID-19 protocols in schools and have not filled the schools’ readiness for resumption form are to delay reopening until they do so.
“They are given between 3rd- 7th August, 2020, to comply. The names of schools that are up to date are to be seen on our website. The list will be updated daily. The safety of our children must be protected.
“Schools are requested to start immediately to prepare students for the upcoming WAEC examination that comes up from 17th August, 2020.
“Students in schools that take only NABTEB examination are to resume on 7th September 2020, as NABTED examinations start from 21st September, 2020.
“Student boarders who are able to go to school from home, are advised to do so.
“Students who are in the boarding schools need to fill the re-entry clearance forms to enable us track their movement history.
“All schools should have only one point of entrance into the school. This is for proper monitoring and health checks.
“All students’ temperature must be checked with infrared thermometer on a daily basis before they are allowed entry into the school.
“The COVID-19 task force of schools must work together to ensure that all COVID-19 protocols are observed by the students.
“No student shall be allowed into the school without properly putting on a face mask,” Anambra government said.
What we’re doing in Delta
Delta State Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Mr. Patrick Ukah, said 5,697 private and public school teachers across the state have been trained on carrying out the COVID-19 protocols in their schools.
He said his ministry was working with the Health and Environment ministries to ensure safety of students and teachers with regards to COVID-19 guidelines, when classes resume on Tuesday.
Among measures being put in place are fumigation of schools; repairs where doors and ceilings are broken, provision of sickbay in the case of incident, as well as toll free lines to response centres across the 25 LGAs.
Ukah said: “we are prepared. We have cleared the schools. The Ministry of Environment is going round fumigating the schools and we hope that Sunday latest, they will be done.
“Our Department, Planning Research and Statistics people are going round and currently deployed to all the LGAs just to do minor works in case there are doors that are broken and ceilings falling off in the classes to be used for the SSS 3 classes, they will fix them.
“We have done simulation and we are using the number of classes according to the number of students that are going to write the exams. We have done it such that only 20 people will be in a class.
“In every school, we have a sickbay. If there is no sickbay, we prepare a class for that school which the Ministry of Health can use in case there is an incident.
“We are going to give thermometers; we are going to give some sanitizers. But we are providing water for those who do not have water through storage tanks. And we will have the bucket taps in most of the schools. We are sending 10 each and we are making facemasks for all the students and teachers.
“We are going to give hand towels that can be used to disinfect their tables every day. We are sending 30 to every school, so that they can use the soap and water to clean their desks and chairs before sitting on a daily basis.