States reopen schools despite COVID-19 warnings

Pupils in Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Sokoto states are expected back in the classrooms today. This is in spite of the Federal Government’s directive that all schools should remain closed till January 18 to monitor the spread of the new wave of Covid-19. Pupils in boarding houses in border towns in Sokoto State are exempted from resuming today.

States, such as Kogi and Plateau, have fixed January 18. Lagos State is expected to announce the resumption date.

The Rivers State government, in a statement at the weekend by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Chidi Adiele, said the resumption date was in line with the school calendar published by the ministry in August 2020. According to the publication, the first school term will be rounded off on February 26.

Adiele said: “The Ministry of Education wishes to announce that with the approval of Governor Nyesom Wike, the school calendar published in August 2020 stands.

“Accordingly, both public and private schools in the state are hereby reminded that schools will resume on January 4, 2021, for normal academic activities.

“Schools are to maintain all COVID-19 protocols, including the wearing of face masks, use of hand sanitisers and staggered classes – morning and afternoon sessions – in order to avoid overcrowding.”

Akwa Ibom
Akwa Ibom State Information and Strategy Commissioner Iniobong Ememobong said a monitoring team from the ministry would ensure strict compliance with the COVID-19 safety protocols.

“Yes, schools have resumed in the state. Boarding students have already moved to their hostels. Usually, boarding students resume on Sunday before Monday.

‘’Yesterday (Saturday), the Commissioner for Education met with head teachers and reiterated social distancing, hand sanitisers, hygiene. And we also reiterated face mask as part of the uniform. We are insisting on hand washing basins.

“And there is a monitoring team from a unit in the state Ministry of Education to ensure that schools, including tertiary institutions, adhere to these safety measures,” he said.

The Public Relations Officer in Sokoto State Ministry for Basic and Secondary Education, Nura Bello Maikwanci, told our correspondent that the 16 boarding schools in the border towns would remain closed for security reasons.

He said: “I spoke with my commissioner who told me that he contacted the governor on the possibility of reopening the 16 boarding schools but there’s no response yet.”

Oyo State Education, Science and Technology Commissioner Olasunkanmi Olaleye said schools will resume on January 11, but stakeholders and government officials will meet this week to review the situation.

Pupils in Delta State are also resuming on January 11. Delta State Commissioner for Basic and Secondary, Education Patrick Ukah, in a statement by his media assistant, Samuel Ijeh, said: “Borders to return on January 10; classes to resume January 11; resumption test on January 13, and it is part of continuous assessment for the second term,” Ijeh stated in a WhatsApp message.

Public and private secondary and primary schools in Abia State will reopen on January 11 for the continuation of the 2020/21 first term, which was cut short by the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Commissioner for Education, Dr. Kanelechi Nwangwa, said: “Governor of Abia State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, has approved the resumption of all public and private nursery, primary and secondary schools in Abia State for the continuation of the first term of 2020/2021 on Monday, January 11, 2021.

“As a result of the new wave of COVID-19, all school heads and proprietors are to ensure that all the COVID-19 guidelines and protocols already put in place are strictly maintained and observed.

“They should also note that by this directive, the first term for 2020/2021 will now officially end on Wednesday, February 10, 2021.”

Boarding schools in Niger State will resume on January 16 while the day schools will resume on January 18, said the Public Relations Officer (PRO) in the Ministry of Education, Jubril Kodo.

Schools across the state were earlier scheduled for resumption on January 5, but a new date was fixed by the state government to contain the spread of the second wave of COVID-19.

The Plateau State government also directed tertiary institutions to resume on January 18.

Higher Education Commissioner Kakmena Audu said the decision to shift the resumption date was in line with the directive of the Federal Government and the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.

The commissioner directed heads of tertiary institutions to comply with the directive and adhere strictly with the safety protocols against COVID-19.

The Director of Schools in the Ministry of Secondary Education, Mr. John Istifanus, directed all secondary schools in the state to resume on January 18.

He also directed all zonal and area directors of schools to ensure strict compliance with the new date. Istifanus also urged head teachers and proprietors of schools to adhere to the safety protocols to avert the spread of the second wave of COVID-19 in the state.

The director urged parents and guardians to bear with the government, saying the decision was in the best interest of all.

Controversy on schools resumption date

In Kano State, the resumption date for schools has been fixed for January 18. But Commissioner for Information, Malam Muhammad Garba, told The Nation that the date is tentative and subject to review.

Garba explained that the review will consider security and COVID-19 concerns.

For security, he said Kano was relatively peaceful, but since security challenges in Katsina, Kaduna, Zamfara and Plateau states could also affect Kano, the state government would ensure improved security  before reopening schools.

“We shut down the schools three days before the normal date that students were supposed to go on holiday. It was because of insecurity. The new wave of COVID-19 also has to be watched before our schools resume.

“The State Executive Council (Exco) has tentatively fixed January 18 as resumption date, but the date is subject to review,” he said.

Kogi State Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Wemi Jones, in a statement at the weekend in Lokoja, said the state could not afford to shut down schools beyond January 18 because of Governor Yahaya Bello’s drive to revamp education in the state.

He said Kogi State was yet to recover from the effects of the lockdown on the Education sector, adding that the state would not jeopardise this.

The commissioner advised all the relevant stakeholders to act accordingly.

There is no date yet for the resumption of schools in Lagos State.

When schools were directed to vacate for the first term holidays on December 18, 2020, a statement by the Director-General, Office of Education Quality Assurance, Mrs. Abiola Seriki-Ayeni, said schools would resume today for the second term.

However, in response to enquiries about resumption, the Head of Public Affairs in the Lagos State Ministry of Education, Mr. Kayode Abayomi, said the decision had been overtaken by events and that a new date would be announced soon.

He said: “Please, recall that the Ministry of Education earlier announced January 4 as resumption date for the second term 2020/2021 academic session. But this has since been overtaken by the turn of events due to the recent waves of COVID-19 pandemic.

“As a result of this, Mr. Governor announced the indefinite closure of all schools.

“To this end, kindly be informed that a new date of resumption will be announced as soon as possible.”

But it is not the same situation for tertiary institutions. While the Public Relations Officer of the Lagos State University (LASU), Mr. Ademola Adekoya, said the institution resumes today to continue the staggered classes that started last August, the PRO of the Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH), Mr. Olanrewaju Kuye, explained that the institution’s resumption date was yet to be determined.

“No date yet. But not tomorrow (Monday),” he said in a text message.

There is also no resumption date for the Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH), while the University of Lagos (UNILAG), like other Federal universities, is not expected to resume before January 18.

Like Lagos, Kaduna State is also yet to get a resumption date for schools. Commissioner of Education, Dr. Shehu Usman Muhammad, told The Nation yesterday that the government would review the level of COVID-19 cases before fixing a date for resumption.

“We are not going with the PTF date. We are going to study our situation. If the figures of the COVID-19 cases come down, certainly we will be eager to open schools. But if the figures continue to rise, certainly we will not be in haste to open schools.

“The COVID-19 task force in Kaduna State will look at the pros and cons, then we will take a decision and make an announcement before  January 18,” the commissioner said.

In Osun State, schools will not resume today.  A public announcement  by Mrs. C. K. Olaniyan on behalf of the Commissioner for Education, said: “The Ministry of Education is overwhelmed by the enquires from the public and private school owners about the resumption date, as earlier stated in the published school calendar, which puts resumption date on January 4, 2021.

“The ministry wishes to state in clear terms that the present public health circumstances, especially those that relate to COVID-19 pandemic, have compelled the state to take precautions.

“Therefore, the Ministry of Education, in conjunction with the Ministry of Health will come up with a realistic date of school resumption which the government will consider to determine a new date other than Januaryn 4, 2021.

“Parents are, therefore, advised to continue to take custody of their children and wards while private school owners are warned not to re-open under any guise. Contradiction shall attract closure of such schools.”

The Special Adviser to Osun Governor on Education, Jamiyu Olawumi, stressed that the state would abide by the advice of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, which states that resumption should be readjusted to January 18.

He said: “We are examining the rate of infections in the state. The Ministry of Education and Health is looking at the daily reports of COVID-19, which will guide us on the decision to reopen schools. With the numbers of cases we are recording now, I think Osun is safe.”

Schools in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) also do not have a resumption date yet. The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) kept mute over the official resumption of schools in Abuja due to the COVID-19 second wave.

Though the resumption of schools was fixed for today, the upsurge in COVID-19 cases prompted the Federal Government to apply the brakes.

When contacted, the Head of Information, FCT Education Secretariat, Kabiru Musa, told our correspondent that the management was yet to meet on the development.

He said: “Until the management meet, I cannot tell you anything concerning the school resumption.”


The Nation



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