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Schools resumption still on hold Featured


School closures at this time means private schools are losing income and many teachers may not be paid. Some are suggesting ways that schools can manage early resumption. However, not many parents would agree to send their wards back to school.



THE lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic is gradually easing and organisations are partially or fully reopening for business.  However, the government has not approved the resumption of schools or churches or events that require large gathering of people.


 
The continued closure of schools is biting hard, particularly, on private schools that depend on school fees to pay salaries.  Many private schools owe salaries for March and April, leaving teachers in their employ in dire straits.

A teacher, Babatunde Ogunwole, expressed his views on the hardship and called for a methodical resumption of schools as soon as practicable in a post published on Lpvforum.com.

He gave six suggestions the government could implement to make resumption work as the country works to reduce COVID-19 cases – including introduction of morning and afternoon sessions to reduce number of pupils in school at a time; and suspension of social activities, among others.

He said: “I have the following suggestions for the government as they hopefully commence (soonest) working out modalities for school resumption.

“We can re-visit and temporarily adopt (with relevant modifications) the policy of morning and afternoon session that we adopted in the seventies. This will enable the school owners to cut down on the number of students in each class at a time to ensure social distancing.
“Government should release a considerable conditional cash relief to all registered private school owners to enhance their capacity to put in place adequate safety measures for their staff and students. These include provision of sufficient PPE’s for teachers and students.
Both morning and afternoon assembly should be temporarily suspended.
All social activities in schools should be temporarily suspended.
A slightly more stringent safety measures adopted for commercial buses should apply to school buses.
“All registered schools should be provided with effective temperature reader for checking all students as they sign in.”
That many teachers and school owners want schools to resume as soon as possible is not in doubt. A member of the Concerned Parents and Educators Network (CPE) who dared post on the group’s Facebook forum that schools would not resume until next year was rebuked by most responders, many of whom were teachers, to the post.


 
Mojiroluwa Adebosin said: “Dear parents, your children are not going back to school this year. So, please, take the alternative learning methods provided by their schools very seriously.”

One of her chastisers, Oluremi Adaralode-Obaujo, said: “Please don’t pass fake news.  Some people’s life depends on this job, no work no salary and they have family to cater for.  We just have to pray to  God to put an end to this pandemic of a thing.”

Another teacher, Adanne Nwaubani, said: “Admin please any of this post again should be ignored, I am a teacher with children, have no other means of income, so my prayer is we will go back to school soonest.”

As a parent, Mrs. Nwaubani also noted that not many parents could afford the cost of e-learning for their wards and would want schools to resume soon.

If well implemented, Mr. Abu Useni said Ogunwole’s suggestions were good.

“It will be a good idea if only it can be properly implemented, especially in schools with less population. All students and teachers must be tested before entering the school,” he said.

However, not many parents and school owners are enthusiastic about resumption with the number of cases still climbing.

Mrs. Ovue Bakenne, a parent, said schools should not resume until the curve flattens.

“My only point will be they should not push to resume schools at this point. Numbers are still climbing and I really don’t know how you can enforce social distancing with students in a consistent way.

We need to wait till the curve flattens and we see clear reduction in numbers and adequate medical facilities to cope with this before we open up schools.

If one child has it in school, the impact of isolating all his classmates and guess what, the parents who are bread winners, what happens to the family’s income?” she said.

Mr, Imade Oarumwense, a parent based in Benin City, said it would be difficult to co-ordinate children in school to maintain laid-down prevention rules on physical distancing and hygiene.

“If schools resume now that will be a disaster.  Let the remedy from Madagascar come and its efficacy be clearly seen before schools can reopen.

How can you tell a Nigerian child to wear facemask continuously or not to play with his classmate and do not touch me and I touch you?”

Some parents told The Nation they would keep their wards away from school if schools should resume before COVID-19 is well under control.

“My children are not resuming until everything is back to normal abeg,” said Mrs. Beatrice Noma.

Another parent, Pastor Samson Itebe, said schools are itching to resume because they don’t want to lose business.

“I just see this (Ogunwole’s post) as an appeal for the physical schools to reopen. School is business just like every other business.

Owners of businesses are doing all they can to ensure the normal business operations resume back, irrespective of whose ox is gored.  As for me, my children will remain at home till the whole coast is clear,” he said.

Despite the hard times, some school owners said they would not support resumption of schools just yet.  Mr. Austin Agbaje, who runs Tana Kiddies Academy in Mowe, Ogun State, said his school was not running online classes because parents cannot afford it.

“Most parents complain of not having laptop or phone, not to talk of data.  My school is in a rural area,” he said.

Agbaje, who said schools should not resume now, however, sought government’s intervention for schools to pay salaries.

“Government should assist schools financially. Many proprietors find it difficult to pay salaries now,” he said.

Proprietor of De Joyland School, Yaba Mrs. Abimbola Osagie also said schools should not resume.

Mrs. Osagie said it had been tough paying salaries.  She said she paid in full for March and partially in April but from borrowed sources.

“I was able to pay full salaries in March when we closed school on March 20.  But it was April salary I had issues with.  I paid 75 per cent to teachers because we are still doing online learning.

But it was with borrowed money.  Even though we asked parents to pay just N5,000 or N6,000 for online learning, they have still not paid so I had to borrow.

I paid non-teaching staff 20 per cent of their salaries because they are not working at this time,” she said.

However, despite the funding shortage, Mrs. Osagie said resumption should wait.

“I don’t think it is safe for any school to open until this is over.  The first thing before learning is safety.  The only thing I can advise is that government should allow us do third term online so when schools resume they don’t need to adjust the calendar,” she said.

Parents are also asking the government to help private school owners with funding to pay workers.

Pastor Itebe said: “Concerning our teachers, our government can do more by assisting the private school owners cushion the effect of this pandemic on teachers.”

However, Mrs. Chioma Idanesi does not see why private schools cannot afford to pay teachers after collecting full fees for the second term.

“Parents had paid second term fees long before then and they were about to write exams and go on break before COVID lockdown.  Parents still paid for second term; they have no excuse not to pay their teachers.

I feel some businesses are just using COVID as excuse.  Even when they are still making money, they refuse to pay their staff,” she said.

Another parent, Mr. Rotimi Badru said: “For proprietors, not paying salaries is normal to them.  They don’t pay before now.

They are only interested in money not the children’s wellbeing. Closure of schools for two months is not enough to stop payment of salaries to teachers.”

Lagos State Education Commissioner Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo said the state would make provision for loans for low-cost private schools through the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF).

With cases still on the increase, Nigeria has not reached its peak of maximum infections. Though paediatric cases of COVID-19 are not many, studies have shown that the disease can have debilitating effects on children and young adults – including meningitis, toxic shock and heart failure.

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He is a social entrepreneur, blogger and political analyst. He is passionate about contributing his quota to the development of his society and nation at large. 

https://www.levencampus.com

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