I argued final week why schools shouldn’t reopen till September 1, 2020. The fundamental cause is that the transmission of COVID-19 in varied communities throughout the nation is on the rise. Worse nonetheless, the result is at current so unpredictable that no everlasting preparations will be made concerning the instant future, not least about reopening schools.
Here’s how the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, put it to a Senate Committee barely 48 hours in the past: “I have to say that the virus continues to be very harmful. We haven’t peaked; now we have to meticulously plan. There is not any timeline; that’s the reason cash is just not being thrown at it simply because it has been launched … We don’t know the way lengthy it will take us. Even the funds that the National Coordinator talked about is for a interval of six months. We have no idea how lengthy it’ll take us”.
Knowing what we all know immediately concerning the behaviour of the COVID-19; the incredulity of many Nigerians concerning the virus; and the non-compliance of most Nigerians with the WHO-supported mitigation measures established by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, will probably be foolhardy to think about reopening schools sooner than September. Neither the science not the info of COVID-19 in Nigeria immediately leads us to think about reopening schools quickly.
Even in superior international locations, such because the United Kingdom, which hurriedly reopened some main schools, have needed to recant. Many of Britain’s main schools vowed to not reopen, whereas the dialogue about reopening secondary schools has not even began.
Some universities within the UK, akin to Cambridge University, have even cancelled in-class conferences (save for a number of distinctive circumstances) and moved lessons wholly on-line for the 2020/21 tutorial session. Some American Universities, such because the 23 campuses of the California State University system, have adopted go well with.
There are three issues with reopening schools in Nigeria, the place many dormitory rooms are as overcrowded as lecture rooms. First, the infrastructure for sustaining bodily distancing and washing fingers with cleaning soap now and again is just not accessible in most schools.
Second, mother and father, academics, and college students usually come from totally different components of the nation to lots of the nation’s schools, particularly within the cities. With the confession of the PTF that Nigerians are refusing to point out up for testing, who is aware of what a lot of them will convey to the schools in the event that they had been reopened whereas the infections are spiking with out an finish in sight?
Third, other than speaking about planning for a staggered reopening of schools in some unspecified time in the future sooner or later, what precisely has the federal and state ministries of training completed when it comes to preparations? Are there sufficient masks for the schoolchildren? What about PPEs for the academics, directors, and different school aides?
What function are academics taking part in within the authorities’s plans to reopen schools, every time it occurs? Have federal and state governments mentioned with academics and fogeys the social, psychological, and monetary wants that needs to be met earlier than schools are reopened?
As for the colleges, the concept of on-line studying is nothing greater than self-deception on the a part of authorities and plenty of universities within the nation, as a result of neither the infrastructure nor the educated personnel is offered in most public universities. Even in non-public universities, akin to Elizade University, which boast of profitable on-line lessons through the ongoing pandemic, the share of scholars who’re capable of take part successfully ranges from 30 to 70 %.
If the state of affairs could possibly be that unhealthy within the universities, think about how poor it could possibly be in main and secondary schools. That’s why the concept of radio, TV, or on-line studying for main and secondary schools through the ongoing pandemic is nothing greater than a giant joke. Of course, the federal government’s good intention needs to be acknowledged. Nevertheless, it’s an intention that was by no means backed by needed and acceptable sources. For college students to be taught profitably on-line, they need to have been educated to take action throughout regular school time, not dumped on them in an emergency.
A important step towards reopening the colleges is being taken by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board this month. The 2020 Policy Meeting for all tertiary establishments will maintain on-line this yr on June 16, 2020 out of respect for the NCDC’s COVID-19 protocol that prohibits massive gatherings. The technique of admission for 2020/21 follows the coverage assembly and it historically takes three to 6 months from that date. It is at that assembly that heads of varied establishments will agree on cut-off factors for admission into varied classes of tertiary establishments.
The important query now could be about those that must take last exams, particularly school-leaving and graduating exams. These are those I had in thoughts for a September reopening, and that solely whether it is attainable. Schools could possibly be open between September and December for such college students to review for, and write, their exams, whereas the 2020/21 in-class tutorial session may start in January 2021, with a modified school calendar of no more than 12 weeks per semester. In that case, the 2019/20 tutorial session would have been prolonged to December 2020 for last yr college students and misplaced by others to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, it is a particular circumstance to be negotiated with mother and father, academics, and college students by federal and state governments in addition to proprietors. It shall be unwise to easily assume that we should always simply transfer on like that as we’re wont to do in Nigeria.
At this juncture, it’s needed to handle a lingering query on many mother and father’ and college students’ thoughts relating to this yr’s WASSCE and NECO exams postponed owing to COVID-19. To the extent that in-class conferences are required for these exams. I don’t see any of them happening earlier than September 1.
An identical query can also be on the minds of many University Vice Chancellors and Registrars. Some of them have been considering on-line last exams for his or her college students. This is feasible for individuals who have the infrastructure for mass video protection, akin to Webex, Zoom, Google Suite, and so forth, to observe the scholars. The drawback, although, is that nobody can assure that every one college students can have the mandatory sources at their finish to write down on-line exams.