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School Reopening: Wike Talks Tough, Vow To Sanction Schools That Violates COVID-19 Protocols

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The Rivers State Ministry of Education says schools in the state must adhere to all COVID-19 health protocols to be able to operate, as schools resume October 5th, 2020.

The State Commissioner for Education, Professor Kaniye Ebeku, speaking during a meeting with Vice Chancellors of state-owned universities and Heads of polytechnics and colleges listed conditions for reopening.

Professor Ebeku briefing the school administrators said, “you know that schools are to reopen with effect from Monday the October 5th. However, there are conditions you must comply with to ensure that not only that we have reopened, but that we can remain opened.”

He said all schools billed to reopen on the 5th of October must ensure the installation and availability of handwashing facilities around the campus and all persons entering the school environment must be subjected to temperature checks.

The education commissioner emphasized that schools must ensure that there is only one entry point into the campus and must also enforce and adhere to physical and social distancing.

He noted that schools must provide a temporary holding centre for people who show symptoms of COVID-19, directing that where practicable schools should adopt blended learning approach in instructing students.

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Speaking further Prof. Ebeku advocated for thorough sensitization of students and tutors on the need to adhere to all COVID-19 protocols.

He said, ‘you need to consider holding classes in two or more sessions to reduce crowd. You need to ban social and sporting activities on campus. Overall, avoid crowding and overcrowding on the campus.”

He also charged the schools heads with the duty to ensure that there are no cases of spike or infection in their various institutions of learning, urging them to enact a rule to sanction any staff or student who flouts the COVID-19 protocols.

In another meeting held same day, Monday 28th September, the Rivers State Ministry of Education revealed that that private schools which violate the COVID-19 protocols may lose their approval.

Addressing stakeholders in the education sector who attended the meeting, Professor Ebeku disclosed the adoption of two sessions, morning and afternoon, as a veritable measure to avoid over-crowding in schools with large populations.

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He clarified that schools will reopen on 5th October for third term 2019/2020 academic session for six weeks, for students in JSS1 and JSS2 and SS1 and SS2 while first term 2020/2021 session will commence on the 16th of November 2020.

The commissioner further said: “schools must consider allowing on few students on campus at a time and all schools must ensure physical and social distancing at all times. Make-up classes can be scheduled on Saturday, although it is not compulsory.”

Furthermore, “if a school is capable, it should adopt blended learning approach. All staff and students must continually be educated on the need to comply with all COVID-19 Protocols.”

Continuing the Commissioner said “all students must come to school wearing their facemasks or NO ENTRY”. As part of measures to check over-crowding in schools, all schools should adopt two sessions, except where the population of the school is so small as to make possible for only morning session to hold”.

The stakeholders meeting of secondary schools was attended by members of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, NAPPS; All Confederation of Principals of Public Schools (ANCOPPS), State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Rivers State Senior Secondary Schools Board (RSSSB), Parents Teachers Association (PTA) and other critical stakeholders in the education sector.

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