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FG considers schools reopening, to release safety guidelines

By Idowu Abdullahi,

The Federal Government has disclosed that plans are being concluded on guidelines for the safe reopening of schools in the country and resumption of academic activities across the nation.

It explained that the move had become imperative to ensure the safe reopening of schools and resumption of academic activities after the outbreak of coronavirus had disrupted the country’s academic calendar.

Recall that the Federal Government had on March 19 ordered immediate closure of tertiary institutions, secondary and primary schools nationwide following the outbreak of coronavirus in the country as part of measures to mitigate the spread of the pandemic.

But, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, said plans are ongoing and guidelines are being put in place to guide the process of school reopening nationwide.

Mustapha, who doubled as the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, who disclosed this during the daily media briefing by the task force in Abuja, on Wednesday, decried the effect of long closures of schools, which he argued, had contributed to the challenge of out of school children in the country.

According to him, the Ministry of Education will soon release the guidelines and other measures to be followed before reopening, while urging stakeholders in the education sector, including state governments to begin adequate preparation towards the safe reopening of schools in their respective domain.

“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 re-opening of our schools.

“The Hon. Minister of Education (State) will be elaborating on the subject, this afternoon. He will also clarify the purported announcement of the resumption date which went viral last week.

“The PTF wishes to use the occasion of this celebration to congratulate our children and assure them, their parents and all stakeholders alike, that all hands are on deck to reopen the schools at a safe time.

“We, therefore, use this medium to urge States, local governments, proprietors and other stakeholders to begin to take steps that will facilitate an early and safe reopening,” he said.

Corroborating the SGF, the Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, said the Federal Ministry of Education will work in conjunction with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to come up with global acceptable measures suitable for the reopening of schools, adding that the apex government will not take any risk amid the virus.

He added that the ministry would publish guidelines for private or public schools in which the condition must be met and other directives fully adhered to before reopening. He urged lecturers in tertiary institutions to maximize the opportunity of school closure to upgrade themselves, adding that there is a possibility of having a semester within a semester for the students in tertiary institutions.

According to Nwajiuba, students in senior secondary might resume before their junior counterparts, while noting that 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.

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