Coronavirus: Cross River refuses to shutdown schools

Ben Ayade, Cross River State governor

Disagreement within the Cross River State government has made it counter a prior directive to shutdown of schools in the state.

This development is contrary isolationist instructions issued by other states and the federal government in the past days as part of measures to curtail the spread of the novel Coronavirus.

The state’s Commissioner for Education, Dr Emmanuel Amanke, urged the general public to disregard any information regarding closure of schools in the state.

Dr Amanke maintained that there was no need to start causing panic where there was no imminent cases of the Coronavirus in the state.

He also emphasised that the Ministry of Education is the sole ministry saddled with that responsibility to shutdown schools.

He appreared to be countering an earlier directive from the state’s ministry of health rolling out various measures to avoid social contacts that may spiral the spread of Coronavirus.

In his words, “Any order from any quarters should be discountenance.

“I am not aware of the statement to shutdown schools from the Commissioner for Health. The Commissioner for Health cannot order the closure of Schools in the state. The Ministry of Education is the sole ministry saddled with that responsibility.

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“We have not ordered the closure of Schools in Cross River State, our timetable is running as planned”.

“We do not have an imminent threat of Coronavirus in the state as of now, so we have no need to activate panic mood for now.

“His Excellency is also very proactive enough, if he has any reason to do so, he will communicate and order me to do so. There’s no such order for now. Any order from any quarters should be discontinuance”.

Amanke also recalled that the school closure order by the Federal Minister of Education was specifically for Federal and Unity schools and has nothing to do with the state’s schools or private schools.

“The Honourable Minister’s circular clearly relates only on Federal Universities, Colleges and Unity schools – it does not affect the state. It is incumbent on the state to so take decisions affecting their states and public schools. Right now We have children who are writing exams in examination classes and all that. And many schools are almost rounding up their exams for now So distorting a school calendar for one month is not going to be an easy thing to repeat especially for examination classes of placement exams, basic education certificates classes and the mock examination classes.

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“Except there’s an imminent threat who we do not have for now, so I don’t see us beginning to think about closure of Schools”.

Last Friday, the state’s Commissioner for Health, Dr Betta Edu, ordered the closure of schools, among other facilities across the state.

According to a statement issued on Friday, the order was in obedience to the directives from the Federal Government.

“This is to inform the General Public that due to the directives of the Federal Government of Nigeria to ensure that all modalities are put in place to prevent/manage spread of the COVID-19 global pandemic in Nigeria, all gatherings/events involving more than one hundred persons in a particular place at a particular time should be avoided.

“As such, political Parties should avoid big rallies while MDAs and organisations should avoid large social events, all Public and Private Nursery, Primary, Secondary Schools and Tertiary institutions are by this notice advised to close down all academic activities on or before the 27th day of March, 2020.

“This is not in any way a deliberate attempt to disrupt any important activity or inconvenience the masses but these measures are necessary to enable the Cross River State Government and the State Ministry of Health to efficiently control, prevent and manage the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

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“The General Public is hereby advised to adhere strictly to this new development as the Health of all Cross Riverians remains the priority of the Government of Sen Prof Ben Ayade and the Cross River State Ministry of Health. Do not panic as we’ll continue to do our best to ensure you live healthy and we will update as events unfold.

“Remember, there’s still no case of COVID-19 in Cross River State so remain calm and continue to practice regular hand washing and other safety measures ensure you visit any nearby health facility in case of any symptoms. Or call 08168434482 or 112”, the statement read.

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