JOS, NIGERIA - Nigeria reopened schools Oct. 12, six months after they were closed to curtail the spread of the coronavirus. However, not all parents believe students should be returning to the classroom.
Gloria Kwashi runs the Zambiri Outreach and Childcare Center in Jos, a school that provides free education and food for more than 400 children, including orphans and victims of insurgent violence. She says the pandemic brought her students' learning to a complete halt.
"All the months that we left, nobody came to school and nobody learned anything, so it was already that bad," she said. "Physical contact is what we capitalize on. If you remove physical contact, we go back to zero."
According to the United Nations educational and scientific organization, UNESCO, almost 60 percent of students worldwide have been affected by COVID-19.
Nigeria's Ministry of Education says despite measures put in place to help students cope with the suspension of classes, poorer students have been more affected because of their inability to afford remote learning.
Dabong Yepieng, the female student president of the federal government college in Jos, says even those who can afford online learning face challenges.
"The school tried as much as possible to provide online lessons, but it wasn't everybody that was listening or paying attention to it. Because many other social vices might take our attention, it takes a disciplined student to get the data and focus on reading and listening to our teachers online," Yepieng said.
The Nigerian Ministry of Education ordered all schools to reopen starting Oct. 12, mandating that they adhere to guidelines provided by the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), according to Istitanus John, the ministry's director of schools.
"There will be proper awareness on NCDC rules and regulation on personal hygiene, and how children, pupils both in boarding school and day school, will learn how to wash their hands very well and use their face masks. The government has equally provided, for the public schools, thermometer infrareds to check the temperature," he said.
However, Idongesit Campbell, a father of two students, remains concerned.
"Actually, I have mixed feelings," he said. "First, I am happy on one part because they are going back to school after a very long time out of school. But the other part is that I am scared about the possibility of contacting this virus from other children who probably come across other people who have the virus. Because we are fully aware of the fact that people can be asymptomatic."
For the moment, the majority of schools have reopened, and they will stay that way unless a new surge in coronavirus cases forces them to close again.