Barely a week after all schools resumed fully following federal government’s directive, there is palpable fear among Nigerians over new cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) across the country.
In a bid to avoid resurgence of the virus through contacts in schools, state governments and parents are mounting pressure of school authorities to ensure that teachers and students comply with the COVID-19 protocols and guidelines.
In many schools visited by our correspondents across the country, students struggled to adhere to the guidelines by putting on face masks and shields, while water was provided for washing hands in line with the protocols, but complained about not being able to cope with the situation.
In most schools, it was observed that students found it to maintain social distance.
Even though there was availability of hand hygiene facilities, temperature checks, use of face masks, the level of compliance was not encouraging in most schools visited, especially in the government-owned schools, as some of the private schools demonstrated a fair level of compliance.
At Federal Government Girls’ College, Bwari, hand hygiene facilities installed at the gates were ignored as several visitors, students who walked in did not have their temperatures checked or directed to wash their hands.
An insider who did not want his name in print told our correspondent that the sitting arrangement and hostel was still the same as they were before the outbreak of the pandemic.
The principal of Senior Secondary School Zuba, Abdulwahab Ibrahim, told our correspondent that that the school was running shifts to ensure physical distancing.
“Because of the population of students and the need for social distancing, we have decided to run classes on Shift,” he said.
But a staff at the Government Day Secondary School Bwari, who pleaded anonymity, insisted that it would be difficult for schools to maximally comply with the social distancing measures because there are no enough teachers.
For some of the private schools visited in Sokoto State, LEADERSHIP Sunday observed that there was a significant level of compliance with the guidelines, as pupils and students alike were seen wearing facemasks and their temperature checked before entering the school premises.
In the public schools, a good number of the pupils and students did not wear facemasks; they however washed their hands with soap and water with the hand washing tools provided by the state government.
In Imo State, our correspondent who visited some schools reports that there was compliance with the guidelines as buckets of water and liquid soap were placed strategically at the school premises with running water, even as face masks were distributed to students.
One of the senior teachers, Nkechi Njamanze, who spoke with LEADERSHIP Sunday said school were not taking chances and will continue to educate the students and teachers that COVID-19 is real and everybody must take responsibility for protecting themselves and the society.
The Imo State commissioner for Education, Prof. BTO Ikegwuoha explained that the state government has taken adequate measures to protect the students and teachers by fumigating the schools and collaborating with the schools in the provision of face masks, buckets and sanitizers.
On his part, the state chairman, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Philip Nwanshi, noted that all schools in the state have been sensitized on the need to keep to the rules as prescribed by NCDC and the presidential task force.
According to him, the union has put a mechanism in place to checkmate the schools in respect of strict compliance to laid down rules and regulations.
Meanwhile, in all the schools visited by our correspondent in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, it was observed that the COVID-19 protocols were strictly being adhered to.
The sitting arrangements in schools were arranged to allow for physical distancing while every student was compelled to observe all COVID-19 protocols and guidelines.
Some of the schools visited included, AUD Comprehensive High School, Ado Ekiti, St. Patrick’s Primary School, Mathew, St. George’s Primary School, Ojido, St. Barnaba’s Primary School, Ijigbo and St. Michael Primary School, Ajilosun.
Newly sunk boreholes were seen in some of the schools as sources of water to the staff and the pupils.
A parent, Mrs Adewumi Oladele, who spoke to LEADERSHIP Sunday said she was surprised by the way her children were responding to what is now known as the new normal.
She said, “Those in the secondary school have three facemasks each and they never forget to use them when going to school or anywhere for once. They also observe religiously, all other COVID-19 precautionary measures.”
Another resident, Mr Dapo Ojo, said his children now educate everybody in their family on how to avoid contacting Coronavirus and prevent the spread of the disease.
“They always told us about social and physical distancing. One of them has made handwashing compulsory for me and their mother whenever we returned home from our places of work.”
But in schools visited in Osogbo, the Osun State capital, students and teachers demonstrated lackadaisical attitude to COVID-19 guidelines.
Few students were seen putting on a face mask while hand washing and application of sanitizers were jettisoned with impunity by the majority of the students and teachers alike.
A teacher who spoke on condition of anonymity said since it was obvious that residents of Osogbo no longer attach serious importance to the observation of COVID-19 guidelines it was difficult for teachers to enforce it in schools.
She noted that although the government provided necessary facilities required to aid the observation of the guidelines in schools, it has failed to enforce compliance with the guidelines.
A student of Osogbo Grammar School, Mufutau Okunola, insisted that there was nothing like COVID-19, adding that the lockdown down imposed on residents in the past was unnecessary.
He said, “Please sir, tell me what has changed from what obtained during the lockdown and now? How many people have been infected by the virus since we started living our normal life? Unless I am forced to observe the protocol, I won’t observe them and nothing will happen to me.”
Checks at both public and private primary and secondary schools in Abia State revealed a lukewarm attitude toward observation of COVID-19 prevention protocol on the part of teachers and students.
In both Umuahia, the capital and Aba LEADERSHIP Sunday noticed that while some of the pupils and students wore their face mask, social distancing was not adhered to.
Few of the schools had sick bays as recommended as one of the conditions for reopening of schools but there were good supplies of water for handwashing, soap, and hand sanitizer.
Speaking to our correspondent, some parents expressed confidence that as time goes on there would be improvement in the observation of the protocol and supplies of the required materials by the schools.
A parent, Mathew Nduka, said, “I am very delighted that eventually the schools have been reopened,” adding that it befits both the parents and teachers to continue with the needful.
But a teacher in one of the public schools in Aba, who did not want her name in print expressed dissatisfaction with what she described as lack of understanding about what is at stake.
Her words: “How can a parent after the series of enlightenment by both individuals and governments on the dangers of the pandemic fail to protect his or her ward adequately against it?”
She however said she and her colleagues would continue to do all that is required of them both as teachers primarily and teachers secondly in compliance with the protocol.
A visit to Etung Comprehensive Secondary School, Bendghe village in of Cross River state, showed low-level compliance to COVID-19 protocol.
When our reporter asked one of the students why he is not putting on his face mask, he said, “Sir, COVID-19 is now over; the principal and teachers are just troubling us for not putting on face masks”.
Buckets of water and hand washing soaps were positioned at the entrance of some classrooms.
Principal of the college, Obi Rambo Ebuta, said the school authority would do everything within its reach to ensure that nothing happens to any of its students as far as the management of the school was concerned.
Ebuta stated that she and her teachers would ensure that COVID-19 protocols are observed. “We would do our best to ensure that nothing happens to any of our students. We have told our students to abide by COVID-19 guidelines as meted out by NCDC,” the principal of the school said.
When our correspondent visited some of the secondary schools in Rivers State, students and teachers were seen adhering to COVID-19 protocols as listed out by the state government.
All students and teachers wore face masks, while hand washing and use of hand sanitizers were mandatory at the entrance of each of the schools.