COVID-19: Anambra Schools Resume after 47 Day Break

…Teachers, Students, Express Mixed Feelings

  • We are Ready – Govt

Primary, post-primary and tertiary institutions in Anambra State, last Monday, February 1, resumed for academic activities after a 47-day break. On December 16, last year, the Anambra State Government directed another closure of schools in the state following a second wave of the deadly coronavirus disease across the country.

Schools in Anambra State had initially been reopened on September 14, 2020, six long months after they were shut on March 23rd of same year. But following a second wave of the disease, the state government was forced into ordering another closure in December last year.

Fides crew who went round the state capital, Awka last Monday, observed that mixed feelings trailed the resumption of academic activities on the part of both students and teachers, with some fearing that the state was not yet ready to combat the spread of the virus, while others believe otherwise.

Mercy Hill, Alexander Johnson Adejoh, Precious Ukeje and Adejumoke Alebiosu, who undertook a tour of some schools in Awka report that while some safety measures had been put in place in some schools as students resumed academic activities, other schools were not prepared to that effect.

While hand washing facilities, hand sanitisers, temperature scanners, as well as disposable and reusable facemasks, had already been deployed to some schools, as classes were seen rearranged to accommodate only a maximum of 30 students; some schools did not have protective measures in place.

Mrs Azodo Delphine, Acting Principal, Kenneth Dike Memorial Secondary School, KDMSS, Awka, who was seen distributing Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to students, teachers and non-teaching staff, told Fides that they were ready to implement the safety protocols at all costs.

COVID-19 Task Force of Kenneth Dike Memorial Secondary School checking student’s temperature, Monday, Feb. 1, 2021.

With over 500 students, it was observed that each student of KDMSS wore either a disposable or reusable face mask before entering the school gate.

Also, it was discovered that most of the schools mounted hand washing facilities in each block, while in some schools a number of classes had one hand sanitiser which was in the custody of the class prefect.

At St John of God School, Awka, a teacher, Victor Nnamdi, said although the excitement of resuming after a long time could not be downplayed, there was still the fear of being exposed to the virus.

While acknowledging that the school fumigated its premises, he however feared that adhering to the outlined safety guidelines might be a challenge, even as he said that they had enough classes to ensure social distancing among the students who just resumed.

‘It’s a mixed feeling; we are happy to come and meet our students and impart knowledge to them and they are very happy to resume and see other students after a long while, but it is also risky without adequate preparation.

‘COVID-19 is not concluded; it is still on and the second wave is more deadly. We are praying that God will protect us,’ the teacher hoped.

Two students of Community Secondary School, Okpuno, who expressed disappointment at the level of compliance to COVID 19 Protocols, told Fides that the people of the state were yet to believe that the coronavirus pandemic was real.

They urged Ndi Anambra to be conscious of their health, adding that the disease once spread to schools would most likely get to every home in the state.

When Fides contacted the Commissioner for Basic Education, Prof Kate Omenugha, on the phone to speak on the preparedness of the state government for a hitch free school resumption, she assured that everything had been done to ensure that the schools were ready.

According to her, the teachers had been asked to report to their schools two weeks before the resumption to ensure that all the facilities required were put in place, even as she disclosed that government officials went round the schools to monitor compliance.

‘We are 97% ready for the school resumption,’ Omenugha told Fides, disclosing that every school was required to have wash hand basins and other facilities and that any school approved now must have them. She also said that morning assemblies had been suspended for now as part of measures to stem the spread of the virus, just as she said that every school had been equipped with a sick bay and taught how to respond in case of any emergency.