COVID-19: FG Considers Reopening Of Schools

May 28, 2020
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ABUJA / LAGOS – Strong indications emerged on Wednesday that schools all over the federation may soon reopen but with strin­gent measures to ensure that the deadly COVID-19 did not jeopardise the process.

Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, gave this clue in Abuja while briefing reporters on the current state of the pandemic and activities of the PTF.

Today, May 27, 2020, is also Children’s Day world­wide and this brings to mind the need to build a legacy that would guarantee a safe and secured future for our children.

“Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the nation was faced with the challenge of out-of-school children.

“This has now been com­pounded by the compelling need for closure of schools as part of the measures to limit the spread of the virus.

“The PTF has been delib­erating on this situation and wish to inform Nigerians that the Federal Ministry of Education will roll out measures to be put in place for safe reopening of our schools,” Mustapha stated.

But Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, sort of contradicted the PTF chairman when he explained that government had not ar­rived at a tentative date yet to reopen schools.

According to him, the PTF was still seeking expert ad­vice on the matter, especially regarding how best students could avoid contracting the virus while learning.

While reacting to specu­lations that some state gov­ernments were liaising with the ministry with a view to reopening schools anytime soon, he said: “The Presiden­tial Task Force on COVID-19 has not announced any date for the reopening of schools across the country.

“Until we are sure that our children can go to school and return safely without taking COVID-19 home, we are not ready to take the risk of open­ing schools.”

He also spoke at the dai­ly press briefing of the task force.

He added: “The Federal Government will rely on the opinion of experts and the guidance of the World Health Organisation (WHO) before announcing any school re­sumption dates.”

Nwajiuba said government was working on a model to en­sure that all the children do not return to their schools at the same time to ensure phys­ical and social distancing, as well as proper sanitation and hygiene at every school.

He explained that for tertiary institutions, there would be need to have a se­mester within a semester for the students.

He added that while some courses would do their se­mester first, others would fol­low suit in a bid to maintain social distancing measure.

He urged lecturers in tertiary institutions to use the period to upgrade them­selves.

“Period like this should not be wasted and tertiary institutions must be func­tioning.”

For secondary school stu­dents, the minister said that those in senior secondary might resume before their junior counterparts.

He said the plan was that the children should resume by the time schools had achieved the physical distancing mea­sure.

“We may have classes in the morning and afternoon at the moment for the purpose of social distancing and all the infrastructure within the school will be used to achieve this,” the minister said.

He said that the ministry would also look at the sani­tary condition of the schools before reopening, noting that schools must be ready to dis­play manually-made hand sanitisers’ machine.

He said that the only condi­tion for reopening of schools would be that they must be ready to receive the students by providing all the needed materials to stop the spread of COVID-19.

He urged state govern­ments and owners of private schools to plan ahead on how to ensure maximum safety for students when the resump­tion plan is unveiled.

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