The Lagos State Government, Office of Education Quality Assurance (OEQA) has emphasised the need for private schools in the state to comply with guidelines for the re-opening of schools for senior secondary three students only, in preparation for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination scheduled to commence on August 17, 2020.
Briefing journalists recently, the Director General, Mrs. Abiola Seriki-Ayeni, who said schools re-opening assessment and clearance will be simultaneous, advised all private schools, whether approved or unapproved to study the released guidelines and develop a template for their re-opening plans.
According to her, "Lagos is the epicenter of COVID-19, where we have a lot of private schools, therefore safety must be first while we ensure learning continues. It is not just physical learning, but blended learning."
She also advised the public, school owners, parents and students to continue to adhere to the safety and hygiene measures in the guidelines because the success of the re-opening of schools is contingent and dependent on the ability of members of the society to flatten the curve.
"We also want to make sure that all school owners, administrators and management staff complete online training on our website. After the training, they are expected to complete an online self-assessment form to indicate they have successfully completed the training. What is expected of them during the training is that they have to create their own re-opening plans based on our template on distance learning plans, blended learning plans, health and safety protocols like fumigation of classrooms, provision of running water and soap for hand washing. Others include staggering of students' time to maintain social distancing and taking of measurements to figure out how many students to be physically together at a point in time.
"Health and safety officers must be available at the premises and schools must also have a plan for COVID-19 like having knowledge of local isolation centres. They must also have learning managers that will ensure that students are learning either at home or in school. He will keep track of assessment to measure the quality of students learning, help teachers with learning plans and the curriculum.
The director general added that after developing resumption plans, private schools must proceed to register for clearance in readiness for re-opening by visiting the agency's website on www.oeqalagos.com to fill in basic data about their schools and the self-assessment form to indicate readiness.
"Top level Office of Education Quality Assurance evaluators who had undergone rigorous training on the new normal will lead teams across the state six education districts to assess schools on re-opening preparation especially on social distancing. They have been trained on how to support schools and teachers and to make sure schools are updated on the entire process.
The visit to schools by quality assurance officers will be based on information submitted online, therefore schools must go through the entire process to indicate readiness to re-open. Upon a satisfactory visit, schools will be issued clearance indication like a bar code to show authenticity of the school. Parents must ensure that schools are cleared before sending their children to the classroom."
Also, in a bid to create a tool for online learning management system to assess different learning opportunities to bridge learning gap for students at this period, the OEQA created www.lagoslearnstogether.com. It also came out of the need for a centralised information access, targeted at pre-class to SS3 students, teachers, school leaders and parents to help out instead of having a bunch of links. The different resources on the website are to support private schools especially for students that have access to devices.
Readaloud Lagos, another initiative of the OEQA is centered on reading and writing to support literacy. It is basically for the low levels, middle/lower level and the high level with no access to technology. It has created monthly learning packs in Mathematics, English and Sciences to be distributed for students with no access to internet, WhatsApp, Telegram, radio, television and other online platforms. Access to these learning packs is across the district offices of OEQA.
To ensure the overall success of the school re-opening guidelines, Seriki-Ayeni disclosed that the office has consulted relevant federal and local agencies especially the Lagos State Safety Commission. At the school level, she said there will be health and safety committee to be chaired by a senior level management staff within the school.
She also warned that the state government will continue to seal and sanction private schools that continue to defy the closure directive of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, stating that schools have not been opened to other classes except SS3. She disclosed that a total of 18 schools which cut across the six education districts of the state had been sealed to ensure the continuous safety of learners.