On Sunday, several State governments differed on the Federal Government’s directive that schools in the country should remain shut till January 18 as part of efforts to curb COVID-19 second wave.
While states such as Kogi, Anambra, Plateau and Ekiti said their schools would resume on January 18, Rivers, Cross River, Gombe, Sokoto, Zamfara, Delta and Oyo states shunned the Federal Government’s directive.
Following the outbreak of COVID-19 second wave, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, at its press conference on December 21, said all schools in the country would remain shut till January 18.
The PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, who addressed the press conference, said, “The PTF on the advice of the Federal Ministry of Education, expects that schools would have vacated from the 18th December, 2020 and remain closed till at least the 18th of January, 2021 to enable the measures introduced to take effect.”
The measures, according to the PTF, include social distancing and installation of hand-washing materials.
The Cross River State Commissioner for Quality Education, Dr Godwin Amanke, in an interview with The PUNCH on Sunday, said the state would not change its decision on the January 11 resumption of schools.
Amanke said “That is our original date on the timetable we rolled out last year.”
On the January 18 date fixed by the Federal Government for schools’ resumption, the commissioner stated, “Individual states are subject to their peculiar circumstances. We don’t have any imminent threat in the state to warrant such a shift.
“We will encourage schools to observe necessary protocols. The parents have a role to play. The teachers have a role to play and children have a role to play.”
Some private schools in the state had fixed their resumption date for Monday (today).
The Chief Press Secretary to the Oyo State Governor, Mr Taiwo Adisa, said the January 11 resumption date of schools in the state had not changed.
Asked by one of our correspondents if the state would change the resumption date to comply with the directive of the PTF , Adisa stated, “ Oyo schools resume on January 11.”
Also the state Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Mr Olasunkanmi Olaleye, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “For now, the schools resumption date remains January 11.”
The Gombe State Commissioner for Education, Dr Habu Dahiru, said there was no going back on the January 11 resumption date for the schools in the state.
Dahiru, who stated this in an interview with The PUNCH, said the Federal Government’s January 18 resumption date was for states with high rates of COVID-19 infections.
He said, “Gombe’s resumption date is still 11th of January. Last time, due to COVID-19, the school calendar had to change. The local epidemiologist has not told me we are in great danger, if we practise the COVID-19 protocols well just like we did when we opened schools earlier.
“Our school calendar states we are opening on the 11th January. The Federal Government’s date is for places like Lagos, the Federal Capital Territory and Kaduna, where there is a surge.
“We have set up committees on COVID-19 protocols in schools. We will observe the guidelines by ensuring that soap and water as well as face masks are available.”
On his part, the Zamfara State Commissioner of Education, Alhaji Ibrahim Abdullahi, in an interview with The PUNCH said schools in the state started resuming on Sunday (yesterday).
The commissioner said, “We have already reopened our schools beginning from today, Sunday. We have reopened our boarding schools today (Sunday), while the day schools will resume tomorrow (Monday).
When asked why the state was not following the PTF’s recommendation that schools should not resume till the Jan 18, the commissioner said, “PTF is not the one that gives us directives.
“My directive comes from my governor who asked us to reopen our schools which we have done and we are going to start the first term examination on Wednesday”.
The Delta State Government also insisted on the January 11 resumption date, adding that the country was a federation.
The Commissioner for Basic Education, Mr Patrick Ukah, had in statement on Wednesday in Asaba, urged boarders to return on January 10 as classes would start on January 11.
The commissioner, in an interview with The PUNCH on Sunday, said the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Chiedu Ebie, had issued a lot of statements about COVID-19 protocols and schools resumption.
He said, “We are a federation. The Federal Government may have given a suggestion and advised that we can resume at a particular time. This is a federal system. It is not only Delta State that is resuming on January 11. Some states are resuming on Jan 4.”
In Sokoto State, one of our correspondents gathered that public schools owned by the state government would resume on Monday (today).
A ministry of education official, told one of our correspondents the state could not comply with PTF’s directive as academic activities were running smoothly in the state schools when the directive was issued.
The source said, “The directive, to my understanding, is for schools on holiday in some places and not public schools in Sokoto.
“You will agree that the outbreak of COVID-19 altered our school calendar and resumption was staggered nationwide. The majority of our schools are starting their first term examination tomorrow, (Monday), and schools will go on break as from January 22, 2021, according to our calendar.”
Efforts to speak with the state Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Bello Guiwa, on the issue did not succeed as calls and messages sent to his telephone had yet to be replied as of the time of sending this report.
The Abia State Government had on Thursday said all public and private schools would resume on January 11. On its part, the Rivers State Government directed its schools to resume on Monday (today).