Many schools in Makurdi have yet to comply with the safety guidelines of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) against COVID-19, in spite of the resurgence of cases of the disease in the country, an investigation by the News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) has shown.
The investigation which was also conducted in Kogi revealed minimal compliance with the safety protocols, as students and staff of schools in Lokoja,the state capital, are attending classes without wearing face masks or observing social distancing.
NAN checks at the Benue State University (BSU) and other schools in Makurdi found that no student or staff of such institutions was seen wearing any face masks.
It was also observed that the schools were not making use of hand sanitizers and other recommended NCDC guidelines for the prevention of the spread of the virus.
In BSU the students were seen receiving lectures in crowded lecture halls with none, including the lecturers, wearing face masks.
At the two entrances of the institution’s gates, it was further gathered, security guards were not enforcing the use of hand sanitizers and washing of hands as stipulated.
Similarly, at Government Model Secondary School, Padopads Harmony Secondary School, Progress Continuous Education Center and Makurdi Metropolitan High School, all in Makurdi, neither the students nor the staff were seen wearing face masks.
Reacting to the non compliance of NCDC guidelines by schools, Benue Commissioner for Education, Prof. Dennis Ityavyar, said the State Government had done its best regarding the enlightenment and supply of face masks and hand sanitizers to the public.
Ityavyar, however, insisted that students were wearing face masks and schools were obeying NCDC COVID-19 guidelines.
He said the State Government had even printed and distributed the NCDC guidelines to all schools in the state.
According to him, the Benue State University, Makurdi has its internal COVID-19 committee to deal with the issue.
“BSU has its internal COVID-19 committee, I think that they were a bit relaxed because of the low number of cases recorded, but now that the figures are on the rise they will sit up,” the commissioner said.
In Lokoja, it was observed that even though majority of the schools visited had water containers, soaps and hand sanitisers put at the entrance of their schools’ gates, majority of the students,pupils and teachers hardly make use of the materials.
Also, only very few pupils and students were seen wearing face masks, while majority were without face masks, and no social distancing was being observed.
However, one or two private schools visited have maintained over 50 per cent compliance with the COVID-19 guidelines as students were not allowed entry into the school premises without using face masks.
A male teacher in one of the other schools visited who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “We hardly follow the COVID-19 guidelines in our schools even though we have the materials.
“We have been relating and living our normal life, and we have never lost any student or teacher in our school to COVID-19 related death.
A student, Joyce Adamah, also told NAN that they normally used hand sanitisers in their school and face masks, but not always.
Adamah said that the students were finding it very difficult to maintain social distancing and use of face masks, adding that,” in spite of all these, God has been protecting us from COVID-19, non of us has died of the virus”.
The schools visited include: LGEA School Lokongoma, Muslim Community Secondary School, St. Luke Model School, Cornerstone School and The Eagle Academy
Commenting on the situation, the Permanent Secretary, Kogi State Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Pastor Emmanuel Idenyi, said he had held a meeting on Thursday with National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS) and All Nigerian Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS), directing them to ensure full compliance with the COVID-19 guidelines in all schools in the state.
Idenyi said that the ministry had also dispatched officials to monitor school resumption and the level of compliance to COVID-19 guidelines by schools, such as the use of face masks, hand washing, hand sanitisers and social distancing.
He said the reports they were getting showed that the schools had started complying with the safety protocols.
He said that the ministry had also put machinery in place to ensure that erring schools were identified and sanctioned. (NAN)