Mixed reactions have continued to trail Monday’s announcement by the federal government to reopen schools for students in junior secondary and senior secondary three.

While some have said that nothing has been put on ground by the federal government to curtail the spread of coronavirus in schools, others say it is a welcome development as students tend to study more when in classroom and that online study is not effective.

The federal government had on Monday, June 29, 2020, announced the reopening of schools as part of modifications to the COVID-19 lockdown, the phase two of which it extended for another 30 days.

The resumption was, however, limited to graduating JSS 3 and SSS 3 students preparing to write their final examinations.

Chairman of the COVID-19 Presidential Task Force (PTF), Boss Mustapha, announced this during briefing by the Task Force in Abuja.

In a telephone conversation with LEADERSHIP, the Advisory Director, White Plain British School, Dr Francis Chukwumah Nwufoh said reopening of schools is a welcome development as online schools were not effective at all.

He said primary school pupils most times do not concentrate during online classes as “you hear them making demands ranging from food, water to going to the toilet.”

He said they are more concentrated while in class adding that what needs to be done now is improving the hygiene of the classroom environment and social distancing.

“It is a welcome development. We tried online school but it was

not effective. Children are not serious. You will be talking to them before you know they will say mummy I want to go to toilet. They are more serious and concentrated in the classroom. What should be done is seriousness concerning social distance and hygiene of the class room. Interaction between teachers and students is very important. It is very important that they open school because if children are not engaged, they might start forgetting what they have learnt,” he said.

Nwufoh further noted that experimental sciences like Physics,

Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics need serious physical interaction between students and teachers for more clarity.

Also speaking to LEADERSHIP on the reopening of schools, director of Press, Federal Ministry of Education, Mr Ben Goon said the ministry is currently holding meetings to tie all loosed ends before students can go back to classes.

He said both private and public schools would have to work out the details as it suits them.

He said all schools must be fumigated before resumption, while students will be divided into two for each class and those with boarding facilities will have to space the bunks.

According to Goon, “We have to do fumigation, we have to decongest the bed in the dormitory, so that we can space them well. We have to subdivide the classes, so that if you have a class of 50, you break it into two. Divide them into two since it is only the examination classes, the final year classes that are resuming.

“Every school will have excess classrooms so that social distancing can be observed. It is the same way we will spit them in the hostels. If the bunks are close, we can leave three bunks in between two people. Fumigation will also have to be done in the hostels. There will also be a notice going to parents on what is expected from them as their children go back to school such as face mask, hand sanitisers and so on. The private sector can also take a cue from that.”

The president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Monday kicked against the reopening of schools by the federal  government due to the COVID-19 pandemic currently ravaging the  country. ASUU national president, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, spoke with with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ota, Ogun State.

According to him, the federal government needs to address the challenges of education sector before it can talk of reopening schools. Ogunyemi urged the federal government to provide ideal environment and should take the lead by meeting the conditions spelt out by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) before reopening schools.

“The federal government must lead and show the way by  meeting the conditions for reopening of schools before any school can be allowed to open, because COVID-19 pandemic is a health challenge.

“When it comes to public health, it is something that should not be left in the hands of individual, but the federal government must take the lead,’’ he said. The ASUU president listed the conditions spelt out by NCDC to include; provision of materials for regular washing of hands, face mask, isolations centres, space for social distancing and hands sanitiser.

Ogunyemi said that many of the schools do not have financial capacities to meet these conditions and requirements for reopening of schools. “It is suicidal to reopen schools now, if the federal government itself could not meet the conditions spelt out by NCDC and World Health Organisation (WHO). The nation will expose the innocent children to risks which is avoidable,” he said.

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