Akwa Ibom government has appealed to the federal government to grant approval for the reopening secondary schools in the state to enable final year students write the examinations conducted by the West African Examination Council.
Schools nationwide have been shut down since March due to the coronavirus pandemic in which the country has recorded over 33,000 confirmed cases and more 700 deaths. Akwa Ibom has a total of 140 cases according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
The state government says guidelines on the resumption of schools have been issued which makes the use of facemasks compulsory to all students who will be returning to schools.
Nse Essien, commissioner for education who made this known in Uyo, the state capital said the position of the state government has been made to the federal government saying reopening of secondary schools for the final year examinations should be made optional to states with the ability to do so.
Essien who said the state government has set up a statewide COVID-19 compliance committee to monitor schools in the state added that many schools have complied with the guidelines issued so far by the state government.
‘It does not make sense to lockdown schools, coronavirus is here with us, it is a new normal, we have to reopen schools for the final year students,’’ he said.
He said though WAEC has yet to issue the timetable for the yearly examinations, the state government has to be ready adding that it has brought hand sanitizers carried out renovations in most its 1600 public schools in the state.
‘We have been able to acquire a lot of facilities, we will visit all the schools and asses the state of their needs. We have actually improved many of the facilities and since the students are not many, we will make adequate provisions,’’ he said.
Essien decried the high level of vandalism in schools involving facilities provided by the state government which he said are vandalized including the removal of water pumps and school desks and urged communities to take interest in schools located in their neighborhood.
During a meeting held with stakeholders in the education sector recently, Essien stated the need for stakeholders to bring out ideas on how the state could be prepared for the post COVID-19 education system.
According to him, all schools must provide adequate number of classrooms to ensure physical distancing, provide infrared thermometers , running water, washing soaps and hand sanitizes for disinfection after washing of hands.
He said a special toll free number will be provided to enable easy contact with the medical team of the post COVID-19 committee in the event of an emergency.