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Irregularly masked students, doubting parents… how schools are adapting with COVID-19 protocols

Irregularly masked students, doubting parents… how schools are adapting with COVID-19 protocols
August 07
13:48 2020

After a closure for four months over the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government decided to partially reopen schools on August 4, 2020. While announcing the resumption for students in graduating classes, Adamu Adamu, minister of education, directed the authorities to ensure strict compliance with safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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Among the conditions set by the federal government are provision of hand sanitisers, water and soap at strategic locations within premises of schools, and ensuring social distance. The guidelines for the reopening of schools also stipulated effective response if anyone exhibits symptoms associated with COVID-19 infection.

TheCable visited schools across the country to check the level of compliance.

At the Federal Government College, Kano, SSS 3 students resumed in preparation for their West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) due to begin on August 17, 2020.

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Returning students were screened and made to wash their hands before entering the school. They also wore face masks and observed social distance.

“We have placed adequate measures against coronavirus. We have provided hand washing basins, hand sanitisers and liquid soaps,” an official who did not want to be quoted told TheCable.

“We will make sure all the students wear face masks during classes and other academic activities. Even the final exams like WAEC and NECO will be written under strict measures against COVID-19.”

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Eleyele High School

WHY SOME STUDENTS DON’T WEAR MASKS

In Oyo state, graduating students resumed before the federal government took a decision on reopening of schools. TheCable visited three schools in Ibadan, the state capital. All the schools made provisions for hand washing. While most of the students wore face masks, some were without protective gear.

At Eleyele High School, some of the students, who did not wear face masks or comply with the rule on social distancing, were seen discussing in groups.

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Overgrown grasses at Immanuel Grammar School, Ibadan, showed that little preparation was made for resumption.

The school principal told TheCable that most of the students found it uncomfortable to have their masks on for a prolonged period of time because of discomfort.

In some schools visited in Akure, capital of Ondo state, teachers and students observed safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The schools also provided hand washing buckets with soap and water in strategic places within their school compounds. At Oyemekun Grammar School, Fiwasaye Girls Grammar School, St Louis and St. Dominic’s High School — all in the state capital — students were sighted wearing face masks and adhering to safety protocols as directed by the federal and state governments.

The school teachers were also seen using infrared thermometers, and assisted by security guards, to scan students before they were allowed into their various classrooms.

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‘NO FACE MASK, NO ENTRY’

The situation was not very different in some of the border communities between Ogun and Lagos states. At Asore Grammar School, Akute, in Ifo local government area of Ogun, there was no temperature check for visitors or the students, although the security guards did not allow anyone without face mask to enter the premises.

Buckets for hand washing were arranged on a makeshift table for students and staff members to wash their hands. The students were also clad in different face masks, while the seats in the classroom were properly spaced.

Ayomide Julius, a student who was seen outside the school premises, said students were often subjected to several checks before being allowed into the classrooms.

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“Before you enter the school gate, you have to sanitise your hands, and before you enter the class, you will go through the same process. We are between 13 and 15 students in a class and it’s usually a student per seat,” he told TheCable.

From a distance, you could tell the seriousness in ensuring compliance with COVID-19 directives at Ajuwon High School, also in Ifo. The reporter had not entered inside the school when the gate man who was wearing a face shield, handed him sanitiser. This was followed by body temperature check from another person in the school.

An official of the school, who spoke about the compliance with safety measures, pleaded anonymity.

“It’s been so smooth since we resumed. The students are coming, and we are COVID-19 compliant. We are abiding by the various directives listed by the federal government. We have water where visitors can wash their hands; we also have water at the entry point of each classroom. You can see our staff, all wearing face masks,” she told TheCable.

At Ojodu High School and Babs Fafanwa Millenium Senior Secondary School in Lagos, there was strict compliance with COVID-19 guidelines among staff and students.

There were various flyers with the instruction: “No face mask, No entry” stationed at the entrance of Babs Fafanwa Millenium Senior Secondary School. A lady, who held an infrared thermometer, checked the body temperature of students, staff, as well as visitors.

A member of staff at Babs Fafanwa Millenium Senior Secondary School declined the reporter’s request to meet with the principal but said the school was “100 percent” compliant with the federal government’s COVID-19 directives for reopening of schools.

“The compliance here is 100 percent. Didn’t they test your temperature and also give hand sanitiser? That’s all we can tell you,” the teacher snapped, unwilling to welcome more comments.

Checks within the school premises lent credence to the official’s comment. Aside the boldly inscribed text aimed at raising staff and students’ consciousness about safety measures on COVID-19, there were also several measures including wash facilities as well as social distancing in the sitting arrangements of the students in the classrooms.

John Okereke, a student of Babs Fafanwa Millenium Senior Secondary School, said “everybody is trying to be careful, so no one is attempting to violate the school’s rules and regulations.”

Julius, a student of Asore Grammar School, Akute

“It’s one person per seat. If you don’t wear a face mask, then you are sure of being sent away from the school. Before you enter the class, you are also expected to wash your hands. So, everybody is being careful,” he said.

When TheCable visited Ajegunle High School, Mile 12 area of Lagos state, a government-owned school, there was evidence of compliance with COVID-19 safety policy. Written at the gate was a warning that no one would be allowed to enter the premises without a face mask.

Students at Ajegunle High School waiting for a teacher to check their temperature before going into their classes.

“As you can see, there are a few students around. Not all of them have resumed. Yesterday (August 4), we told them it is a must for them to appear in school with their face masks,” a teacher, who spoke under anonymity, said.

“All of them here complied but the problem is social distancing. That is so hard for them to practise; you see that immediately you step out of their classes, they mingle. For their exams, a hall has been prepared upstairs but it is locked. There are only 20 students in each class at the moment. We’re making use of other classes since it’s only the SS3 students that are around.”

When the reporter pointed out that there was no soap and sanitiser at the entrance, the teacher said the vice-principal was on her way with the items. But when the vice-principal came into the school and saw the reporter, she declined the request for an interview, saying: “I don’t want any trouble.”

‘MOST PARENTS DON’T BELIEVE COVID-19 IS REAL’

At Wonderful Lord College, a private school located in Ketu area of Lagos, a teacher at the reception checked the temperature of every visitor and student at the gate, before they were allowed in.

A bucket with tap, filled with water, was placed immediately after the gate with liquid soap and hand sanitiser.

The proprietor of the school explained that the teachers were doing all they could to assist the students within the short period of time and before the commencement of WASSCE.

The reporter noticed that some students moving around the school compound did not wear face masks. When the attention of an official was drawn to this, he said the school authority has been having issues with enforcing the face mask rule among the students.

“It has been a bit difficult enforcing the face mask rule as most of the students and their parents do not believe there is COVID-19,” he said.

“They only wear it when they get to the school gate, not from home. Immediately they get into their classrooms, that is the end. Sometimes, they complain that the mask is making them feel hot.”

At Chris College in Kosofe area of Lagos, a transparent bucket-tap was placed at the entrance of the school with a bowl beneath it and liquid soap for hand washing.

Inside Chris College, Kosofe

The gateman also took the temperature of the reporter before she was taken to the reception to await the arrival of the school coordinator.

The school coordinator, who simply identified herself as Nkpaji, said there are 60 students writing the senior school examination.

Nkpaji told the reporter that four to five teachers come to the school daily in order to avoid a situation where the school environment will be rowdy.

“Lessons start by 8am and end by 12pm. Not all the teachers come to the school every day; just the ones that have subjects to teach per day,” Nkpaji said.

Students with face masks in a class

“Two halls have been prepared for the students to write their examination and we will ensure they are seated two-centimetres apart.”

IN KADUNA, MANY STUDENTS HAVEN’T RESUMED

Authorities at the Federal Government College, Kaduna, adopted strict measures against the spread of COVID-19 among final year students.

Hand washing containers at the entrance of Federal Government College, Kaduna

At the school gate, students, staff and visitors were subjected to thorough checks by three medical personnel and other security guards manning the gate. However, despite the reopening of the schools, only a few students were on ground on Wednesday. Some of them were seen hanging their face masks below the chin.

The medical personnel at the gate checked body temperature, administered hand sanitiser and enforced wearing of face masks.

TheCable gathered that a team from the ministry of education had inspected facilities in the school earlier in the day. A member of staff, who pleaded anonymity, said among the facilities inspected were the school clinic which, according to him, had been upgraded, the school’s isolation centre, hostels and classrooms.

He disclosed that more nurses and doctors had been deployed to the school to work throughout the examination period.

A parent, who identified himself as Mohammed Aliyu, said COVID-19 has made life difficult for Nigeria.

“I am a businessman. COVID-19 has destroyed businesses, we are not finding it easy. This is what many parents are going through,” he said.

He, however, commended the measures being adopted by the school authorities against the spread of COVID-19.

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