Primary and post-primary schools in Abia reopened on Monday for the third term of the 2019/2020 academic session, after almost six months of closure due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
Newsmen who monitored the resumption in Umuahia, the state capital, and its environs, report that there was low turnout of pupils and students in the schools visited.
While some of the school children were busy tidying up the classrooms and premises, others were seen playing in groups.
Newsmen reports that the teachers, who turned up in their numbers, were seen exchanging pleasantries and making preparations for the commencement of lessons.
At Avonipupe Nursery and Primary School, pupils were seen settling down for the day’s lessons, while teachers were receiving teaching materials for classes.
The school’s Headmistress, Mrs Ogechi Maraizu, said that the turnout of pupils was low but hoped that the attendance would improve in the days ahead.
“Most of the pupils are happy with the resumption,” Maraizu said, adding that some of them came in mufti to verify that school had reopened.
She said that after verifying, they went back home to put on their uniforms and returned to school.
“We are fully prepared for the third term’s work. The school has an isolation room, handwashing points, hand sanitisers and nose masks for indigent pupils,” Maraizu said.
At Ogbo Model Nursery and Primary School, teachers were seen conducting morning assembly in their classrooms, while parents were also seen bringing their children to school.
The Headmistress of the school, Mrs Rose Agomuo, said that the school compound was cleaned up and fumigated two weeks ahead of the resumption.
Agomuo said: “All the items needed for observing COVID-19 protocols have been put in place at strategic places within the school compound.
“Teachers have been instructed to ensure strict observance of the safety protocols, especially social distancing among themselves and pupils.
“The state government organised training workshop on COVID-19 for head teachers and after the training, participants will pass the knowledge acquired to teachers in their schools.”
The Principal of Ave Maria Precious Secondary School, Rev. Sister Pax-Mary Akubueze, said that strict compliance with COVID-19 protocols in the school was non-negotiable.
Akubueze said that although the students’ attendance was low, it would improve in the next few days.
She said: “We have fumigated and cleaned up the school compound to make the place safe for the students.
“We will make sure that everybody that is entering the school compound will be checked with infrared thermometer.
“Also, handwashing buckets have been put in place at strategic points in the school compound. “We shall be conducting regular training on the importance of observing COVID-19 protocols.
“We are going to adhere to government’s directives on the collection of 30 per cent of the school fees students, then normal fees would be charged when the new session begins.”
At Urban Primary School 3, Umuahia, a teacher, Mrs Gracel Eze, expressed happiness that they were finally back to school.
Eze decried the low turnout of pupils and appealed to parents and guardians to release their children and wards so that they could cover the timetable for the term.
Mrs Caroline Ogbonna, an Assistant Headmistress at City Nursery and Primary School, Umuahia, also decried the low turnout of pupils, hoping that the situation would be better on Tuesday.
“As you can see, all hands are on deck. Everybody, including the teachers, is involved in checking the temperature of the pupils and teachers with infrared thermometers.
“We are also strictly observing other COVID-19 protocols,” Ogbonna said.
Mrs Nnenna Anosike, Sectional Head, Basic Six in the school, said that she was really happy that they were back to school.
Anosike said: “I’m also happy that we did not lose any child or teacher to COVID-19 throughout the six months that we were away.
“We are begging our dear parents to release their children to come to school, because we just have one week of revision before examination.
“Our examination commences on October 5 and ends on October 16. We have wasted a lot of time.”
At Tahila Schools, Umuahia, no pupil was present as at the time of the visit but the teachers were busy doing clean up.
The Head Teacher of the school, Mrs Nwanyinnaya Kalu, said: “We have resumed but we have not seen our students.
“We do not know why parents don’t want to bring their children to school. We are doing clean up and we assume that they will come by tomorrow.
“It may be because the government asked them to pay 30 per cent of the schools for the third term.
“But I’m happy that we have resumed because I’m tired of staying at home.”
Meanwhile, Newsmen observed that some public schools’ buildings have suffered dilapidation with ramshackle roofs, chairs and desks.
Some teachers, who spoke on the poor state of the schools’ buildings and infrastructure, called for government’s urgent attention to remedy the situation.
“We appeal to the government to urgently come to our rescue.
“Our roof is leaking. We don’t have where to put the sick bed as required by the COVID-19 protocols,” one said on the condition of anonymity.
The teachers also demanded the payment of their COVID-19 allowance, implementation of the new minimum wage and Teachers Enhancement Allowance, among others.
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