The Nigeria Union of Teachers on Monday, amid concern about the rising coronavirus cases, said it would on Thursday hold a meeting on the pandemic and compliance with COVID-19 protocols in schools across the country.
The Secretary-General of the NUT, Mike Ene, stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja, as primary and secondary schools in many states reopened with partial compliance with COVID-19 safety rules.
While schools in some states observed safety rules such as social distancing and hand washing, others disregarded them as classrooms were overcrowded.
The NUT Secretary-General, Ene, in the interview with The PUNCH, said Thursday’s meeting would review compliance with COVID-19 protocols with the aim of ensuring safety of teachers and their pupils.
When asked to comment on safety rules in schools, he stated, “I cannot tell you whether anybody is complying with COVID – 19 protocols in states. I have never asked anybody because since we are all going to speak on it, there is no point calling anybody. We have called a NEC (National Executive Committee) meeting for Thursday to look at how the resumptions have been.”
Earlier in an interview with one of our correspondents, Ene advised teachers to avoid hugging one another.
He said it was the duty of state governments to provide personal protective equipment, adding that the union had directed its members to assess what each state provided.
Ene stated, “If the government provides everything and there is running water, children know what to do. We have imbibed this practice of washing of hands. All we want is to ensure that there is regular water supply. We should avoid hugging one another and hand shaking.
“Our pupils and students have really wasted time and keeping them at home longer will mean that their brains will be retarded. If markets, where everybody goes are not shut, I don’t know why schools should be shut.”
Meanwhile, two committees of the House of Representatives on education have disagreed over the resumption of schools.
The Chairman of the House on Committee on Tertiary Institutions, Mr Aminu Suleiman, in an interview with one of our correspondents on Sunday night, said the House had yet to take a collective decision on school reopening.
He, however, said academic activities should resume as commercial and religious activities were not suspended.
The House Committee on Basic Education and Services had on Saturday said the country was not prepared for reopening of schools.
The Chairman of the committee, Prof Julius Ihonvbere, had, in a statement on Saturday faulted the Federal Government for allowing schools to resume despite the rising cases of COVID-19.
But on Sunday night, Suleiman argued that Ihonvbere’s comments were his personal opinion and that of his committee.
Suleiman said, “As for the (committee on) tertiary institutions, we are completely not against the resumption. In fact, we received it with joy and happiness. We welcomed the resumption. Many Nigerians are desirous of ensuring a sustainable educational system in the country.
“We (lawmakers) were carried along in all the preparations by the ministry (of Education) and we are satisfied with the level of preparations and (safety) measures put in place to ensure a conducive and healthy atmosphere for both teaching and learning.”
Partial compliance as schools resume in states
Schools in states including Enugu, Ekiti Lagos, Ogun, Ogun, Ebonyi, as well as the Federal Capital Territory resumed academic activities on Monday for the second term of the 2020/21 academic year with partial compliance with COVID-19 protocols.
Our correspondents, who visited some schools in Abuja and states which resumed academic activities, reported that many public schools observed COVID-19 protocols, while others violated them.
Public schools suspended early morning assemblies. But some pupils were seen entering their various classes without washing their hands or having them sanitised.
At the L.E.A Primary School Gbazango, Abuja, only two out of over 15 pupils who went in as our correspondent observed them from the gate, wore face masks. Their hands were neither washed nor sanitised as they entered the school.
Also, at Karu in the Abuja Municipal Area Council, schools observed the protocols partially.
At the Government Secondary School, Karu, two spots for washing of hands were provided at the school gate.
For the about 15 minutes that The PUNCH correspondent monitored events from the gate, however, only one female member of staff was seen washing her hands before entering the premises.
Other members of staff and pupils did not do so. More compliance was however noticed among private schools.
Pupils without face masks sent home
The Head teacher of the Local Education Authority Primary School, Narai -Karu in the Abuja Municipal Council Area, Mrs. Saratu Ishaku, sent some pupils without face masks back to home.
Our correspondent also observed that Ishaku stopped parents, guardians and visitors without face masks from gaining access to the school’s premises.
Speaking to one of our correspondents, Ishaku said she would continue to send pupils without face masks back home until there was absolute compliance.
She said, “Our teachers have also been mandated to lead by example by making sure that they use the face masks appropriately.”
Some schools, however, took the safety measures seriously in Kubwa, a satellite town in Abuja.
The three schools visited – Government Junior Secondary School Byagin, Government Secondary School, Byagin and Government Secondary School Kubwa II – showed compliance.
School officials were seen enforcing the “No Mask, No Entry” policy as some students were refused entry for not wearing masks.
However, journalists in Lagos on Monday were denied access to monitor compliance with the COVID-19 protocols.
During visits to some schools, including Babs Fafunwa Millenium Senior Grammar School, Babs Fafunwa Millenium Senior Secondary School, Ojodu Junior Grammar School, Ojodu Junior High School in the Ojodu/Berger area of the state, our correspondents and other journalists were denied entry into the schools.
Some staff members said they had been warned to avoid journalists.
A principal said, “Only journalists that accompanied officials from the ministry of education are allowed access to cover activities in the school.”
But the Public Relations Officer, Ministry of Education, Kayode Abayomi said, “I just got to know about that; and that is why the commissioner said the press should follow her instead of going independently.”
Also in Gombe State, some government schools did allow journalists to come into their premises.
In Orji secondary school, the principal told one of our correspondents that they were not allowed to grant the media access.
He said, “Go to the commissioner and get a permit before we can talk to you or grant to access. We were told not to allow journalists to come.”
But the Information Officer, Ministry of Education, Saidu Malala, he described such order as unprofessional for journalists to be barred from covering public schools.”
Similarly in Ogun State, some government schools in the Obafemi Owode Local Government Area partially complied with the COVID-19 directives.
The correspondent, who observed activities in some schools in the Ibafo, Mowe and Ofada areas of the state, noticed that some of the safety rules on COVID-19 were partially observed or not observed at all.
At the Obafemi Owode Local Government School 1, Ibafo, it was observed that most of the pupils were not wearing their face masks.
At the Obafemi Owode Local Government School 2, where there was a low turn of pupils; most pupils also were not using their face masks.
There was no provision of water and soap until one of our correspondents called attention of a teacher to it.
At the Community High School, Ibafo, it was observed that some of the pupils delayed outside for not wearing face masks.
However, there was no social distancing and no provision for a temperature check and hand sanitisers.
At the Ofada Community Comprehensive High School, our correspondent observed that the senior students, who did not observe social distancing, waited on the school field for the junior students to finish their classes.
At St. Andrew’s Nursery and Primary School, Ibara and Owu African church central school, Ita-Oyalode, Abeokuta, the state capital, it was business as usual as students went their classrooms without washing their hands.
While buckets of water and soap were placed at strategic points within the two schools, the students ignored them.
At African Church Grammar school, teachers were at the gate as early as 7am sending students without face masks away from the school. This only lasted for an hour as our correspondent who visited the school again later discovered that there was unhindered entry without face masks.
Pupils at the Gateway Secondary School, Ita-Iyalode, developed cold feet following the presence of the teachers at the school gate.
However, one of the pupils that had entered the school came out to inform her friends that there was no restriction. This prompted others to go into the school. Some of the pupils in the school compound were, however, seen with their face masks.
Also in Ondo State, the adherence to the COVID-19 protocols was ignored at the schools visited.
At Oyemekun Grammar School, Akure, it was observed that the school provided buckets of water, soap and sanitisers at the school gate, but many of the pupils did not make use of them.
A large number of students were also observed to have removed their nose masks after gaining entrance into the school premises.
It was zero compliance at Eji-Oba High, Oba-Ile in Akure North, Local Government Area of the state, without buckets of water, soap and sanitisers provided at the school gate, both the teachers and pupils walked in without face masks.
At St. Louis Grammar School, Akure and Fiwasaye Girls’ Grammar School, there was partial compliance with the protocols.
The Principal of the Oyemekun Grammar School, Mr Ogunleye Okeowo, said the pupils who floated the guidelines would be sent home.
He said, “We have to abide by the rules of COVID-19 protocols. It’s real and we must not joke with it.”
Expressing concern over the development, the Permanent Secretary, Ondo State Ministry of Education, Mr Akin Asaniyan said parents should be blamed for most of the non-compliance attitude of the pupils.
He said, “The parents are not taking it seriously. Most of them allowed their children to resume without face mask and some basic things. Why taking such risk?”
Compliance excites Kogi
The Kogi State government has expressed satisfaction with the turnout and compliances with the COVID-19 protocols following the resumption of schools in the state today.
The Commissioner for Education, Wemi Jones, expressed satisfaction while speaking with journalists at Crowther Memorial College Lokoja, shortly after visiting some schools in the metropolis. ,
Osun students without face masks barred
Students that turned out without their face masks were prevented from entering schools in Osogbo, Osun State capital on Monday.
At Salvation Army Grammar School, Osogbo Grammar School, Islahudeen Grammar School and Fakunle Comprehensive High School, students that had turned out without face masks were not allowed into the schools.
Also in these schools, infrared thermometres were not used to check temperature of the students before they were allowed in.
Also, during our correspondent’s visit to Osogbo Grammar School, the students that did not have face masks were stopped at the gate, as security men insisted on them having face masks before entry.
The response of the Special Adviser to Osun State Governor on Education, Mr Jamiu Olawumi, on the observations of our correspondent is being awaited.
‘Ekiti’ll shut schools with COVID-19 problems’
In a related development, the Chairman, Ekiti State COVID-19 Response Task Force, Prof. Bolaji Aluko, said on Monday that schools that had COVID-19 related problems would be shut by the state government.
Aluko said, “We have re-circulated the rules to teachers and the management of the schools to begin to enforce them.
“We will shut down any school where there is problem. During the first term, there was no incidence of infection in schools, so we are confident that there will be no problem this time.
“I went to Christ’s School, Ado Ekiti today to inspect, I saw a lot of students wearing their masks. I addressed all the teachers. Those students who did not wear all had nose masks. I was in one of the classes, when I asked them to wear their nose masks; they brought them out and put them on”.
The taskforce boss, who said compliance level could be determined when schools fully settled down, said, “I was at only one school, but I have been communicating with the Commissioner for Education, Dr Adebimpe Aderiye. The first day is not usually the best day to assess compliance.”
Plateau primary school teachers turn back pupils
As schools resume nationwide, primary school teachers in Plateau State on Monday said they would not rerun to the classrooms on empty stomach
When our correspondent visited the Township Primary School in the Jos North Local Government Area around on Monday, some of the teachers who showed up were heard telling the pupils who had reported for school to go back home.
At St. Luke’s primary school in Jos North LGA, the school gate was locked as neither the teachers nor the pupils were around.
The situation was the same in several primary schools visited in Jos South LGA and other council areas of the state.
One of the teachers at St. Peter’s Primary school Bukuru, Jos South LGA who spoke with one of our correspondents said they decided to stay at home because they did not have transport fare school.
The teacher, who declined to give his name, said, “Since November, we have not been paid any salary. Even the N30,000 minimum has not been paid to us. Where do you want the teachers to get money to transport themselves to school and teach the children?”
However, secondary schools in the state resumed.