New Telegraph

Fear, excitement trail schools’ resumption

Resumption of final year students of secondary schools became necessary as the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) slated to begin in less than two weeks from now approaches. Our reporters, who took a tour round some schools across the country, noticed that non pharmaceutical measures are already in place as required by the government before reopening.

The most noticeable are: hand washing facilities, sanitisers, temperature scanners, disposable and reusable face masks. All students, academic and non-teaching staff were seen in most of the schools visited wearing face masks and keeping to the social distancing rules.

However, at the time of visit, security guards in most of the schools were being taught how to use the thermometer to scan anyone entering the schools. In others, there was no strict enforcement in the mandatory washing of hands or use of a hand sanitisers as specified by the government.

In Lagos State where one of our reporters visited the African Church Model College, a co-educational secondary school in Ifako-Ijaiye, the principal, Mrs Folasade Erinle, was seen dishing out instructions to some staff members of the school on the new rules. Erinle however, told our reporter that the school has no problems complying with the COVID-19 protocols as directed by the government. She said: “We have placed banners at conspicuous places within the school compound, the same way we have wash hand basins, soaps and sanitisers all around strategic places.

“Right from the gate, our security men have been trained on how to use the thermometer to check temperatures of anyone coming into the compound irrespective of status. “All visitors, students and employees, both teaching and nonteaching staff, are mandated to wash their hands before they are allowed entry.

“And of course, the use of face masks, as you can observe, is compulsory for everyone here. We have equally internalised the social distancing techniques as that has gradually become part of our routine here.” The principal said that her students are meant to come from home for now as the boarding is not open yet. Lagos State officials, she also said go round to monitor compliance; they are doing a great job as they visit impromptu with unmarked vehicles, she added.

“This has helped us and I presume many other secondary schools in the state to understand that the only way out is for us to adhere to the set protocols. “Our water system is running 24/7. And because we have only the final year students, it has helped us to space them out; we split the classes and at present we accommodate only 20 students in a classroom that before now takes about 35 students.” One of her students, Edun Praise, noted that it’s been very exciting to be back in school after about five months of compulsory holiday occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Well, the state tried to bring us all to do online lessons, but like you know, it can’t be like the classroom interaction in the sense that it doesn’t give room for questions. “So, staying that long at home was boring to say the least because you are just at home practically doing nothing aside from reading anytime you want.

“My school management has done pretty well in providing all that the government demanded before the school was reopened and they have also done well in making sure that everyone here keeps to the COVID guidelines as stipulated by the government.

“I give the school kudos for that. Before this lockdown, our school is always crowded because of the huge population here. “But since we resumed, social distancing, provision of sanitisers and washing of hands have all become part of our culture here, the staff have also keyed in to this and every one of us is trying at all times not to be caught defaulting in the set rules.

“No physical contacts. Wearing of masks is compulsory in this school. The only time you see someone not wearing a mask is when a teaching is teaching,” Praise said. For some of the teachers, the COVID protocols have become part of the school that “we cannot but complied with.” Although one of them, who declined his name in print, was skeptical about the measures as he pointed out his fears of guaranteeing students’ safety as, according to him, some may not be able to adhere to instructions.

“To me, the government ought to have had a little more patience to study the situation properly before reopening the schools,” he said. Similarly, our reporter, who also visited Babs Fafunwa Millennium Senior Secondary School, Isheri Road, Ojodu, Lagos, spoke with the principal, Stella Adams, and some students. Adams, who took our reporter round the school compound, expressed satisfaction over what she called total compliance of the protocols by students and staff of the college. She said: “We have internalised the set protocols here as you can see for yourself.

You can’t be here and see anyone, from the gate, not wearing a face mask or keeping to social distancing. “We recite all the protocols every morning when we resume and at closing time. We do this to keep reminding us of the danger of COVID and the need to do the needful in order to remain alive.

“Thankfully, our students and staff have been wonderful in this respect, and we pray to God to continue to give us the grace to be able to obey the rules.” Damilare Eyemowa and Easter Adebiyi, the school’s head boy and girl respectively, praised their school authority for providing the necessary facilities needed to help keep to the protocols as demanded by the government. Eyemowa said: “Our school provided us with additional face masks, washing hand basins and detergents even in front of our classes as a measure for the COVID-19 control.

“We are grateful for this and have also tried not to default in doing what is expected of us.” For Adebiyi, “social distancing here is most commendable. The school also split our classes to five arms with each containing only 20 students. “This has helped us to sit one each in a chair. It is also mandatory of us to bring our face masks, hand sanitisers and food as no student is allowed to buy anything outside the compound once the school is in session. “Social distancing in this college is also topnotch.

I’d say that everyone has keyed in to the new rules though it’s difficult sometimes but we have no choice for now.” In Abuja, the principal, Model Secondary School Maitama (MSS), Blessing Ezendu, who was seen distributing the Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to students, teachers and nonteaching staff, noted that they were received from the FCT Secondary Education Board. At the Junior Secondary School Model, a teacher, Ifeduba Victor, said although the excitement of resuming after a long time cannot be down played, there was still the fear of being exposed to contracting the virus. Even though the school was yet to be fumigated or provided with any PPE, Victor noted that they had enough classes to ensure social distancing amongst the JSS3 students, who have resumed for classes ahead of the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BESC). “It’s a mixed feeling; we are happy to come and meet our students and impact knowledge and they are very happy to resume and see other students after a long while but it’s also risky without adequate preparation.”

Two young students of Model Primary school, Hauwa Adamu and Praise Jasper, in primary 6 and 5 respectively, also lamented they were tired of reading for an exam that was taking forever to be written. But Vincess Ogebe thinks differently. An SS3 student of Laudable High School, she said there was no guarantee students could remain safe due to their inability to adhere to instructions. She said: “Personally I don’t think this is a wise decision. In my class for example, students still cluster together once the teacher steps out to gist. Some even drip their masks to the chin while talking.

“We have to write our examinations but we have to be extra careful not to end up in the hospital with COVID-19.” One of the teachers, who craved anonymity said: “They got it mixed up, we just got circular today (Tuesday, August 4), to be here and we came but nothing is happening.

“We are appealing to the government to reconsider its decision on resumption because we are not ready, especially those of us in the FCT.” At Government Science Secondary School, Pyakasa, the boarding students were seen resuming with their PPE’s inclusive in list of items, as the teachers received them with a high rate of compliance to the nonpharmaceutical guidelines for COVID-19. One of the teachers, who spoke to our reporter, noted that she wasn’t scared returning back to work. “We have everything in place.

It’s only SS3 that is resuming and we have taken all necessary precautions,” she said. The situation was slightly different at Government Secondary School, Byazhin, as the school principal, Mr. Lawrence Opara, told Saturday Telegraph he had received 40 cartons of hand sanitiser, five infrared thermometers and face masks from the FCT Administration. At Government Secondary School Kubwa, popularly known as Black and White, students who failed to wear face masks were prevented from entering the premises.

The principal, Mr. Musa Nuru, was seen handing down directives on strict enforcement of temperature screening at the gate before entry. Meanwhile, students and staff of Unique Secondary School Makurdi have expressed excitement over the decision of the government to allow students in SSS 3, JSS 3 and Primary 6 to resume and take their final examinations. Some of them, Dominick Precious and Dianne Ochaikwu, both of SSS3, said they were happy that the long holiday was over and were back to school fully prepared for their examinations.

When Saturday Telegraph visited some schools in Otukpo Local Government Township, it was observed that the students were in high spirit to return to school. In the schools visited, temperatures were checked at the gates with face masks, hand sanitizers and the students were made to wash their hands regularly and keep to the COVID-19 protocols. Also in Delta State, our reporter discovered at the popular West-End Secondary School, that over 207 students that have registered for WASSCE in the school resumed classes.

The principal, Mrs Patience Okolo, who confirmed this, told our reporter that the state government has equipped the isolation centres, provided needed items, and mounted sickbays in schools where there are none, to ensure safety of students.
But the acting principal, Hollywood International School, Mrs Tricia Greatness, lamented that her school was yet to receive any protective kits from the state government. She nonetheless stated that her school would adhere to guidelines with a minimum of 20 students per classroom. A Senior Secondary School student at the Zappa Mixed Secondary School, Asaba, Justina Okolie, said his brain has become dormant and wondered where he would start from.

In Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, a teacher at the Amuloko Community Secondary School, Mr. Kolawole B.K, told Saturday Telegraph that “the COVID-19 experience has been so devastating on both teachers and students. “We missed our students, as well as the comradeship amongst us as staff. The fear of contracting the pandemic disallowed many of us visiting one another.”

In Kano State, “no school, public or private, is allowed to reopen before August 10, according to the Commissioner for Education, Muhammad Sanusi Kiru. He said: “The state government would soon distribute PPE for free to all schools including the private ones in the state. “G

overnment would decontaminate the affected private and public schools before reopening them.”

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