SCHOOLS’ principals, proprietors and teachers in Anambra State have expressed their readiness to resume school as soon they get the state government directives.
Our reporter, who monitored the preparedness of schools to reopen following the governments pronouncement of reopening schools for students in exam classes last week, observed that many schools environment were already tidied up, with desks and students’ lockers rearranged to make way for social distancing.
It was also observed that teachers in all the schools visited were in their various staff rooms working on the students’ results using their continuous assessment while teachers were seen preparing their lessons for their online teaching sessions.
At Igwebuike Grammar School, Awka, the principal, Arazu Jovita said that having read from the print media, the pronouncement made by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari to reopen schools for the exam classes which include JS3 and SS3 classes, the school management has been ready since the lockdown to begin properly the physical teaching and learning method in the school and are waiting to receive an official circular to that effect from the state government, adding that the teachers are in their staffrooms rounding up the students results and filling the data sheet.
“I’ve told them to get it ready on Wednesday, so that it can be submitted on Friday, at the zonal offices. The principals have been told this week to be in their schools and expect a team from government that will be moving around to check the level of the readiness of every school towards receiving their students. Our students got the news from the print media that the school will resume. That is why you see some of them around but we ask them to go home because we have not gotten the directives from the state government”.
He also said that the management had gone round the school with a team to fumigate the environment for conducive learning to take place and to clear the weeds that are still greenish, clean the school bed as directed by the government to make it available for isolation centre, including fixing every non-functional equipment, as well as getting some drugs ready in case of emergency.
The Head of Department of Basic Science, Mrs Gloria Ezechukwu, was seen with her colleague in the Biology lab, Peace Okechukwu, who is the Biology teacher for SS1 class.
Mrs Okechukwu said that the teachers were compiling the second term results of the students as instructed by the Post Primary School Service Commission, Awka Zone using the student’s continuous assessment which was given to them before the lockdown and also maintaining the school online teaching via WhatsApp.
In an interview, the principal of the Girl’s Secondary School, Awka, Lady Wini Ibezim said that the management were still waiting to get the directives from the Commissioner for Basic Education as regards the resumption date of the schools in Anambra State, noting that the environment has not been fumigated, including none availability of an isolation center in the school, except the sick bay made available for the students who may feel sick temporariry.
“To some extent, we have tried to get ourselves ready. I will not say that we are fully ready because of the financial constraint. Before, we have two infrared thermometers but only one is functioning while the other one is not good. Our teachers are still undergoing the online teachings via WhatsApp,” she said.
Dr Ndidi Okeke, who is the school guidance counsellor, said that the teachers had been rubbing minds together for the past three months to put things in order within their capacity, making provision of pin numbers to enable the students in accessing their online tests and exams once the schools remains locked down.
She also said that the management had been using insecticide against termites in all the classrooms, including marking of floors to position the student’s lockers as regards the COVID-19 precautionary measures, adding that as a result of the large size of the environment, the management is also making arrangement to run two shifts for both junior and senior secondary in order to impact effectively in their lives but said they were also finding it difficult to put in order all the lockers that could not be kept in the class to avoid overcrowding of students.
“Our plan is that the junior secondary will come from 8am and dismiss by 12pm while the senior secondary will come 12:30pm and dismiss by 4pm. We have also placed our COVID- 19 banner, mounted at the gate and made provision for sanitisers, buckets of water with soap in the school. I have also counselled the students about this pandemic starting from the origin, symptoms, down to the precautionary measures”.
The sick bay attendant who is also the Health and Physical Education teacher for JS1, Nkechi Edochie said that the precautionary measures have been placed at the strategic points and appealed that government will provide some equipment like infrared thermometer, hand gloves, medicated face masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) needed in the school.
According to her, “Before a student comes into the school environment, he or she must wear a white facemask and I will check the student with this infrared thermometer. If the temperature is high, I will send the student back to be taken care of by the parents but once it reads normal, I will allow the child to go in”.
The Head Mistress of Nadora Memorial Nursery and Primary School, a private school in Awka, Mrs Ogbodo Esther, in an interview said that the school had succeeded in fixing the wash hand basins and soaps in the strategic places, including fumigation of the environment and arrangement of desks in the classrooms which she noted will contain two students per one, as well as put in the modality that every student should resume with their face masks and hand sanitisers as soon as the resumption date is officially announced .
She said the teachers made lessons available for the students on weekly basis which covers the scheme of work and assignments before converting it into compact disks for the children to play at home according to their classes, while the parents are expected to return the assignments to the teachers after reading by the students.
It was also observed at the National Secondary School and Rhema Kiddies International Nursery and Primary School, Awka, that the classes are empty while teachers were seen preparing their online teachings for their publis.
One of the teachers expressed her feelings and said that the condition of the school has been hectic for both the management and the teachers due to the inability of the parents to pay for the online lessons as a result of no income and for the teachers to receive their salaries as expected.
The proprietor in one of the schools said that it had been on her neck to ensure the teachers welfare since the lockdown but has tried to pay at least half of their monthly salaries, noting that the desks have been reduced in all the classes and made provisions for wash hand buckets with soaps and sanitisers for the students once they resume.
She further said that few children whose parents could not afford android phones to access their online lessons attend physical classes twice a week, adding that there is ongoing arrangement to employ more teachers that will help in teaching in other extended classes as regards to keep social distancing among children.
According to her, “You know that the online teaching and learning involves data. Some of the parents don’t have android phones which make the system to look like nothing is working. It simply means that once the parents comply, the management will pay the teachers”.