Federal, States, and Others Review Terms For Schools Reopening

Another step towards the reopening of schools will be taken today as Federal and state governments meet to review the level of compliance with the conditions.

Kofoworola Belo-Osagie, Lagos, Frank Ikpefan, Abuja, Toba Adedeji, Osogbo, Ernest Nwokolo, Abeokuta, and Rasaq Ibrahim, Ado Ekiti

The 52-page guidelines released by the Federal Ministry of Education is designed to navigate the path for the resumption of pupils in exit classes to enable them write their external examinations despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

A decision on the return to school by exit class pupils may likely be taken at the end of today’s meeting.

The ministry’s virtual meeting with Commissioners of Education and special advisers on Education in the 36 states and the Education secretary of Federal Capital Territory will also pick a likely date for the safe reopening of schools.

The meeting will be attended by officials of the National Examinations Council (NECO), National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB) and the West Africa Examinations Council (WAEC).

Also expected are representatives of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), the umbrella body of private school owners and the All Nigeria Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS).

But National President of NAPPS Chief Yomi Otubela said on Sunday that he was not aware of the meeting.

Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Education (FMoE) Sonny Echono said a decision on 2020 West African Senior School Certificate Examination organised by WAEC will be taken having received a feedback on the options available to Nigeria from the examination body.

He said the government had agreed on a date to hold the national common entrance examination into unity colleges.

The permanent secretary said the date for the common entrance examination will be announced at the end of today’s meeting.

Minister of State for Education Emeka Nwajiuba had last week said Nigeria was open to the option of writing the General Certificate Examination (GCE) organised in November/ December.

Echono said: “We (FG), all the commissioners of education, examination bodies, private school proprietors, ANCORPS, Secretary of Education, FCT and other stakeholders are going to meet tomorrow (today).

“We have invited them so that if they require explanations and their own input we will hear from them at once.

“The subject is for us to decide on the issue of reopening of schools for all the exit classes to take their final examinations.

“We have already agreed on a date for the common entrance. That one is for primary schools so it is not an issue. It doesn’t have much problem. The date will be announced after the tomorrow’s meeting.

“We have received a feedback from WAEC on what options are available and we want to discuss those when the new date will be and let us agree as a group and not just impose our view on the others.”

Director of Information in the ministry, Ben Gong, said: “The emphasis is on the exit classes who are going to do WASSCE, NECO, Common Entrance and NABTEB,  With the decision they (WAEC) took, by next month they should be starting the examination. Being a bigger customer we said no.

“We want to meet within us to discuss and look at the timetable. WAEC is proposing either August or November. We are saying since we have a number of exams there is nothing cast in stone to say that we must start with WAEC.

“Since WAEC is saying next month; which we have disagreed with or November, the exit classes can resume and start preparations and do all these exams (NECO, NABTEB and common entrance) then we will meet WAEC by November.”

Some of the conditions given to state by the Federal Government include school management, provision of infrastructure for social distancing, disinfecting schools, provision of water and soap for handwashing, the provision of infra-red thermometers, the use of face mask, appoint incident managers, appointing classroom wardens, among others.

National President of NAPPS Otubela said he was only aware of a meeting to review preparations for resumption scheduled to hold on July 30.

He said: “The one I heard about should be on 30th of this month but I have not confirmed the Invitation.

“Until after that meeting before update. They have asked schools to fill a form based on the 52-page guidelines and submit by July 29. After July 29 there will be a meeting.”

Lagos State

The Lagos State NAPPS President, Alhaji Olawale Ahmed, told The Nation that private schools were ready for the resumption of SS3 pupils.

“I cannot comment on the resumption date; that should come from the Governor. But we are ready for resumption. We were giving an assessment form that cover 12 areas.

“We have a quality assurance committee in the association that has been going round,” he said.

Lagos State Commissioner for Education Mrs. Adefisayo said in preparation for resumption in public schools, the premises have been decontaminated, wash hand basin and soap provided; arrangements made for supply of water by trucks where there is no water, among other.

“We have had ministry of environment and local governments going round fumigating all schools -even more than once. They have even helped private schools. They are fumigating  and decontaminating those that were used as marlets. Beyond that we are installing wash hand basins in our schools. If SS3 alone come back they are just a third of all senior classes so they will spread across the classrooms. They will be able to maintain social distance; they won’t go their normal classes; they would go across all schools. If not enough they will use the junior secondary school and if not enough they will use the nearest primary school,” she said

Osun State

Osun State will commence fumigation of schools ahead school reopening, Special Adviser on Education Alhaji Jamiu Olawumi said yesterday.

According to him, out of the 12 recommendations to be met for schools to reopen, the state had met 10.

He said: “We have received guidelines from the Federal Ministry of Education on reopening of schools and we have interrogated the issues they sent to us, out of twelve we have been able to meet 10. Osun is good to go with school reopening. The other two have to do with taking instruction and clearance.

“With the meeting that will happen tomorrow between the commissioners of education and special advisers across the country with the Minister of Education and the Federal Ministry of Education. We are ready to table what we have done before them.

“We have forwarded the request for fumigation of schools to the ministry of health. We will start the fumigation this week in preparation for other issues raised by the protocol sent to us by the Federal Government. Compliance is a matter of when we present it to the governor as our point before he offers his opinion on it and decides what to do.

Chairperson of National Association of Private Schools in Osun State, Alhaja Muniat Adepoju expressed the readiness of private schools owner to reopen saying, we have set up a monitoring team to ensure that all guidelines are followed by schools.

Anambra State

Anambra Commissioner for Education Prof. Kate Omenugha said preparations were in top gear for the possible reopening of schools soon.

Omenugha in Awka yesterday that the State Executive Council had approved the procurement and distribution of 1,000 infrared thermometers to public primary and secondary schools.

She explained that schools got the equipment during the Ebola scourge in 2014.

She said the new 1, 000 thermometers were replacement in schools where a recent inventory had shown that they were no longer functional.

According to her, this is part of efforts to ensure that the schools meet the minimum coronavirus (COVID-19) protocols.

Omenugha added that other items including buckets and hand washing soap, would be provided by the schools themselves.

She said the ministry had directed that all schools in the state should set up a taskforce team and send out ‘Resumption Readiness Forms’, to the schools that would assess the level of readiness in line with all the safety measures.

She added that this included sanitation of the environment and spacing students in their schools.

The commissioner said so far, 912 of such forms had been filled and returned, while over 95 per cent representing over 866 of the schools that filled the forms had indicated their readiness.

She said that there were not less than 3, 000 public and private secondary and primary schools in the state, each of which must be ready before resumption.

“Exco has approved that we reopen for Junior Secondary School Examination (JSSE) and the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) for a date that will be announced after the ongoing stakeholders’ meeting. So we are ensuring that necessary measures are in place”.

Ogun State

Ogun State government said it had taken steps towards ensuring the safety of staff and pupils as well as preventing the spread of Corona Virus spread as the State get set to reopen schools remained shut since March.

Commissioner for Health Dr. Tomi Coker said the ministry had given directives to  schools through the Education ministry on precautionary protocols to adopt in order to safeguard the health of the people and prevent the spread of COVID – 19 in schools.

Coker added that the heads of schools in the state would also attend necessary trainings tomorrow (Monday) on how to keep the school environment, staff and students safe as well as prevent the spread of Corona Virus.

Also, the Special Adviser to Governor Dapo Abiodun on Students Affairs, Adeyemi Azeez, said the state government on top of its plans to reopen schools across the state.

Adeyemi said a Committee chaired by Deputy Governor Noimot Salako Oyedele, was set up to facilitate the smooth and safe reopening of schools.

“Ogun government has set up a high powered committee, headed by the deputy governor to work out modalities towards reopening of schools in Ogun state.”

Ekiti State

In Ekiti State, the government has directed all schools ready to resume operations to acquire certificates of fitness before reopening.

The government said schools with coronavirus prevention facilities will only be allowed to resume activities, while  certificates of compliance must be received from COVID-19 Task Force to authenticate their readiness to reopen.

The Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Mr Foluso Daramola, said no school would be allowed to resume without complying with the stipulated guidelines to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

He said all the schools must comply with the safety protocols to avert the spread of the deadly disease, saying provision of requisite facilities remains the prerequisite for reopening .

Daramola said part of the prerequisites is that, the schools must fumigate their premises, and provide running water in front of their buildings to ensure regular hand washing.

Teacher for test

TEACHERS in all schools in the Southeast will undergo compulsory COVID-19 tests before the reopening of schools the region, Southeast Governors Forum has decided.

Chairman of the forum and Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umahi dropped the hint in Abakaliki yesterday while briefing newsmen after a virtual meeting of the forum.

According to him, lots of fears were expressed especially for the kindergarten and primary school levels where the pupils for instance, do not understand what is social distancing.

He said: “This is because they love themselves and must always stay together and a part of the protocols of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control is that people must wash their hands with running water.

“You will ask how many of our schools have running water and how many sanitisers have been provided for them.”

[The Nation]

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