Doosuur Iwambe, Abuja
Despite the pressure mounted by some organizations, including the Academic Staff Union of Universities, against reopening of schools amid the second wave of the pandemic, the Federal Government has insisted that the January 18 date earlier slated for the resumption of nationwide has been retained.
The minister of education Malam Adamu Adamu however maintained that strict adherence to protocols for the novel coronavirus pandemic otherwise referred to as Covid-19 must be observed by all schools.
In a statement on Friday, Ben Bem Goong, the Director, Press and Public Relations, the minister said that the decision to retain the date was taken after due consultations between the Ministry of Education and critical stakeholders in the sector.
The statement reads: ‘’Sequel to the hint given during the press 12 January 2021 for the review of the proposed resumption date of 18th January 2021, the Federal Ministry of Education has undertaken a comprehensive appraisal of the situation.
‘’After extensive consultations with relevant stakeholders, including State Governors, Commissioners of Education, Proprietors and heads of institutions, staff unions and students, the consensus of opinion is that the resumption date of 18th January should remain, while parents and respective institutions must ensure full compliance with COVID-19 protocols’’.
The statement listed the protocols to include compulsory wearing of Facemasks by all students, teachers and workers in all schools, temperature checks and hand washing facilities at strategic locations in all schools, ensuring constant supply of water and sanitizers.
Others are: enforcement of maintenance of social distancing and suspension of large gatherings such as assembly and visiting days, avoiding overcrowding, including limitations in class sizes and hostel occupancy, availability of functional health clinics with facilities for isolation and transportation of suspected cases to medical facilities and adherence to all other non-pharmaceutical protocols, restrictions and containment measures as may be prescribed/ approved by the PTF from time to time.
The measures which are to ensure safe reopening of schools for academic activities the statement added will be subject to constant review as we urge teachers, school administrators and other stakeholders to ensure strict compliance.
Also, the Kogi State Government on Thursday said all public and private schools in the state would resume academic activities on January 18, and urged all relevant stakeholders to strictly comply.
The state’s Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Mr Wemi Jones, made the announcement during a news briefing in Lokoja.
Jones reiterated that all schools should resume on Jan. 18 to continue the first term of the 2020/2021 academic session.
”It has become imperative for me to address the press to clear the air, so as to prevent confusion on account of school resumption in Kogi.
”I will like to state unequivocally that resumption date for all schools in Kogi remains January 18, 2021.
”This applies to both public and private primary and secondary schools, and tertiary institutions of learning in the state,”he said.
The commissioner said that his ministry had revised the school calendar to accommodate and make up for the two-week break extension due to the lockdown that was prompted by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the schools were initially scheduled to resume on Jan. 4 for continuation of the first term, but that it was extended by two weeks due to the hardships caused by the pandemic and the lockdown.
He said that Gov. Yahaya Bello had directed the ministry to comply with the two-week break extension in the state as advised by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.
”’The governor, thereafter, clearly stated that the state would not jeopardise the education of our children by extending school resumption beyond January 18, 2021.
”So, schools must resume in Kogi across all levels: primary, secondary and tertiary for both private and public schools, on January 18,” Jones said.
Similarly, the Kwara State Government has announced January 18, as the beginning of second term academic session in the state.
Mrs Kemi Adeosun, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development, made this known during the Education stakeholders’ meeting held at the ministry’s headquarters on Thursday.
According to her, Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara has approved the date as the official beginning of 2020/2021second term academic session in the state.
She further reminded the schools’ authorities that safety guidelines of COVID-19 should be intact in all schools in the state.
“Nobody should enter the school premises without a facemask on.
“Any school that does not comply with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Federal Ministry of Education guidelines will face appropriate sanctions,’’ Adeosun said.
She reiterated the commitment of the present administration in the state to flatten the curve of COVID-19 transmission in state.
In his remarks, the Chairman, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Mr Olu Adewara, who spoke on behalf of stakeholders, commended the governor for being proactive in decision making, especially on educational development in the state.
He gave an assurance that teachers would abide by the rules and regulations of COVID-19.