Graduating students in secondary schools across the country can now heave a sigh of relief as the federal government and the National Union of Teachers (NUT) yesterday resolved to reopen schools to enable the students write their final exams.
Specifically, the federal ministry of Education directed all secondary schools in the country to reopen for exit classes on August 4, 2020.
By the directive, Junior Secondary School (JSS) 3 and Senior Secondary School (SS) 3 students now have two weeks within which to prepare for both the senior and junior West African Examinations (WAEC) due to start on the August 17, 2020.
A statement signed by the director of press of the ministry, Mr Ben Goong, noted that this was the unanimous decisions reached at a virtual consultative meeting between the ministry of Education, commissioners of Education of the 36 states of the federation, the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), the proprietors of private schools and chief executives of examination bodies.
The statement said it was agreed that the exit classes should resume immediately after the Sallah break, from August 4, 2020 to enable them prepare for the WAEC examinations scheduled to commence from the August 17, 2020.
The statement noted: “The meeting also resolved that a passionate appeal be made to the Federal Government through the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 and public spirited Nigerians for assistance to schools across the country to enable them fast track the preparations safe reopening, as agreed.
“Another meeting is to be convened on Tuesday between the Federal Ministry of Education and Chief Executives of examination bodies namely, NECO, NABTEB and NBAIS to harmonise their examination dates, which will be conveyed to stakeholders expeditiously by the Federal Ministry of Education”.
S’East Govs Ask Teachers To Undergo Compulsory COVID-19 Test
But governors of the South East geopolitical zone have said teachers in the country must undergo compulsory COVID-19 test before resumption of schools.
Chairman of the Southeast Governors’ Forum and Ebonyi State governor, David Umahi, disclosed this at the Government House in Abakaliki, the state capital, while briefing journalists on the outcome of the virtual meeting of the forum on Sunday.
Umahi said the forum also reviewed the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic in the region and resolved that school infrastructures will be reviewed to support the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) protocols pending when the federal government decides on when it is safe to reopen schools.
Urging the Igbo people to continue to comply with the COVID-19 protocols, the governor said eastern states will commence COVID-19 testing on every household, targeting people of 65 years and above.
FG Further Extends Phase 2 Of Eased Lockdown By 1 Week
Again, the federal government yesterday extended the second phase of the eased lockdown by another one week.
Secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, announced this during the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja.
He recalled that the PTF had briefed the nation on June 29, sequel to the approval of Mr President for the extension of phase two of the eased lockdown by another four weeks.
He said the extension is due to expire on Wednesday July, 2020 having commenced on June 30, 2020.
According to him, the PTF has continued to evaluate the developments as well as the level of compliance nationwide and has regrettably come to the inevitable conclusion that majority of Nigerians, irrespective of status, creed and level of education, continue to live in denial of the virulent nature of the virus and consistently breach the guidelines and non-pharmaceutical measures put in place.
He said, “We informed you two weeks ago that the process of submitting the 6th Interim Report and recommendations for next steps had commenced.
“The PTF has reached advanced stages of the process. It has also considered that due to the upcoming Sallah (Eid El-Kabir) festivities which coincides with the expiration of the current phase.
“It would be prudent to extend by one week, from 29th July, 2020 till Thursday 6th August, 2020. It has accordingly secured permission to retain the existing guidelines till that date”.
Considering the importance of international air travel to the economy, Mustapha said the PTF and the Aviation sector are working hard to fast-track reopening of the international airspace.
Most importantly, he noted that the arrival protocols for passengers on in-bound flights are being firmed up for seamless testing and detection, adding that relevant MDAs will be holding further consultations.
He further explained that their analysis has shown that people over 50 years of age, especially those with underlying factors remain most at risk.
He said this position is backed by the fact that 65% of fatalities recorded in Nigeria are in this category.
“That brings me to the need to appeal to Nigerians on the need for a change of behavior and compliance with guidelines and measures put in place. If you do not need to go outside your home, please stay indoors. Avoid large gatherings and observe all the measures”, he appealed.
As Nigerians prepare for the Eid-El-Kabir celebrations, the SGF who is also chairman of the presidential task force on COVID-19 urged all Muslims and all Nigerians to continue to observe all measures.
Speaking at the PTF briefing, he said, “We noted with delight, the increasing number of States that have shelved activities during the Eid-el-Kabir and we still urge others yet to do so, to follow suit.
“WHO has also issued Safe Eid practices in the context of COVID-19 and I urge us all to access and disseminate,” he added.
Keeping Borders Shut Not Sustainable, Says WHO
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization said yesterday that keeping borders closed to halt the spread of COVID-19 was becoming unsustainable.
Accordingly, it urged countries to adopt comprehensive strategies based on local knowledge of where the virus is spreading.
Border closures and travel restrictions remain an important part of many countries’ strategy to combat the novel coronavirus.
At the same time, rising cases in a range of countries in Europe and elsewhere that had loosened measures after appearing to get their outbreaks under control have spurred discussions of possible fresh border closures.
But the UN health body warned that such measures cannot be kept up indefinitely, and are also only useful when combined with a wide range of other measures to detect and break chains of transmission.
“Continuing to keep international borders sealed is not necessarily a sustainable strategy for the world’s economy, for the world’s poor, or for anybody else,” Michael Ryan, WHO emergencies director, told journalists in a virtual briefing.
“It is going to be almost impossible for individual countries to keep their borders shut for the foreseeable future,” he said, pointing out that “economies have to open up, people have to work, trade has to resume.”
He acknowledged that when it comes to COVID-19, it is impossible to have a “global one size fits all policy” because outbreaks are developing differently in different countries.
While countries with rampant community transmission may need to use the blunt instrument of lockdowns to gain control of the situation, others should be burrowing down to get a clear overview of where and how the virus is spreading at a local level.
PTF Warns Against Mass Gathering During Sallah, Says COVID-19 Protocols Still In Force
The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF) yesterday called on Nigerians to continue to comply with the measures put in place to curb the spread of coronavirus in the country.
PTF national coordinator, Dr Sani Aliyu, who spoke at the briefing of the task force in Abuja, the nation’s capital, specifically urged Muslims to remember that the COVID-19 protocols remain in force.
Aliyu asked them to avoid mass gatherings during Sallah and observe social distancing while observing the Eid prayers.
He said, “We would want to remind us all that the safety guidelines for the second phase of the ease of lockdown are still in place for the purpose of public safety.
“In fact, the protocols we have designed with regards to places of worship remain effective as at the time we open mosques and churches.”
The national coordinator called on clerics not to allow people into the Mosques without face masks and ensure that the total duration for prayers, including sermons, should not exceed one hour.
He also appealed to people who feel unwell or show symptoms of COVID-19 to stay at home to support measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.
Atiku Hails FG Over Decision To Slate WAEC Exam For August
Former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, yesterday commended the federal government for announcing that the West African Examination Council (WAEC) examination should hold in August.
Atiku stated this on his official Twitter handle while responding to the announcement by Federal Ministry of Education (FMoE) that students in JSS 3 and SSS 3 will resume on August 4 preparatory to their WASSCE exams.
Recall that the former vice president had championed the campaign to lift the earlier announced cancellation of the exams by FG.
Atiku said, “The announcement by the FMoE that the WAEC exam will hold in August is commendable. Learning must go on, especially for exit stage students. I do hope, however, that students writing the exams are well prepared through home study during the lockdown. I wish them the very best.
“I commend the FMoE for acceding to the patriotic counsel that myself and other well-meaning Nigerians and organisations gave with regards to not cancelling the WASSCE exams”.