RSG Reopens Schools Next Monday Stakeholders Work Out Modalities This Week

Following the directive by the Rivers State Government for all secondary schools, universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and other tertiary institutions in the state to reopen next Monday, the state Commissioner for Education, Prof Kaniye Ebeku, has said that various stakeholders in the education sector in the state would meet within the week to work out modalities towards the full reopening of schools except the primary schools.
Although Ebeku did not give the exact date for the meeting, he, however, said that the meeting would deliberate on critical issues to determine the next class students that would resume and the number of students to be taken into each classroom to ensure social distancing, acceptable school hours as well fees to be paid by students, among others.
The commissioner stated this via text message while responding to questions by The Tide on the way forward on the reopening of schools by the state government.
It would be recalled that the state government had, last Friday, announced that the State Executive Council had approved the full resumption of schools in the state with effect from Monday October 5, 2020.
The council took the decision at an emergency session presided over by the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, last Friday, at Government House, Port Harcourt.
Ebeku, who announced this while briefing journalists at the end of the meeting, explained that all secondary schools, vocational centres, universities and other tertiary institutions in the state, were affected by the directive.
He, however, stated that the council did not approve the reopening of primary schools based on expert medical advice.
Ebeku added that the council also approved the setting up of a Seven-man Task Force to Monitor and Enforce the Compliance of Covid-19 Protocols in the various schools.
The task force, he said, has the Administrator of Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority, Amb Desmond Akawor as chairman while the Head of the State Civil Service, Barrister Rufus Godwins; Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike; Commissioner for Social Welfare, Mrs. Inime Aguma; Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Ifeyinwa Nwankpa; and Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim are to serve as members.
According to the council’s resolutions, the Commissioner for Education, Prof Kaniye Ebeku is to serve as secretary.
However, some parents and students in the state have commended the state government for the reopening of schools about six months after the education institutions were closed to check the spread of the novel Coronavirus pandemic in the state.
One of the parents, who spoke with The Tide, Mr Chinwendu Nwubi, said parents have long anticipated the gesture, adding that the news was, indeed, received with admiration.
According to him, students in the state have suffered untold educational backwardness as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and urged the state government to ensure that they monitor compliance by the schools in the state.
Also speaking, a student of Captain Elechi Amadi Polytechnic, Rumuola, Port Harcourt, Miss Ifenyinwa Amaliri, lauded the state government for reopening of schools.
According to her, students have suffered much during the pandemic, noting that many students have been involved in various anti-social activities during the period the schools were closed.
Speaking earlier after the SEC meeting, the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, also announced the reopening of public places such as parks, cinemas and restaurants that would operate within the hours of 6am to 9pm daily.
Nsirim stated that night clubs and bars as well as Oil Mill Market and Slaughter Market, Oginigba, remain closed.
He said that all the reopened public places must adhere strictly to the Covid-19 protocols or face severe sanctions.
In her remarks, the Commissioner for Social Welfare, Mrs. Inime Aguma, said that the government reviewed the compliance of citizens as it relates to Executive Order 16 on the conduct of marriages in the state.
Aguma stated that henceforth, applications for marriages must be accompanied with an affidavit stating that there would be no reception.
According to her, a fine of N100million awaits defaulters of the extant regulations.
She added that local government chairmen were to be held responsible, if they fail to monitor compliance in their various areas.
Speaking further, the Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, said that the council also reviewed issues regarding public burials during the Covid-19 period.
According to him, all public burials in the state are to be conducted in line with the Official Gazette of the state which stipulates that not more 50 persons are allowed at such ceremonies.
Chike stated that henceforth, families applying for burials must provide death certificates and an affidavit that they must adhere strictly with all Covid-19 protocols.
He said that defaulters would be liable to a fine of N100million while local government chairmen are to ensure that the directives are complied with in their various areas.

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