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FG releases guideline on school reopening, prescribes online learning, others

By Idowu Abdullahi,

As part of measures to mitigate spread of coronavirus in Nigerian schools, the Federal Government has released guidelines to be adopted for schools resumption and recommended that distance learning, online teachings, and satellite centers mode of learning be adopted.

It explained that the new guidelines which had in it outlined actions, measures, and requirements needed for reopening exercise became imperative as part of measures to ensure a safe reopening of schools and learning facilities after outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the nation’s academic year.

The Ministers of Education, Adamu Adamu, said that with the new guidelines, the apex government will conduct a rapid assessment and determine the funding requirement for upgrading infrastructure and facilities to meet and sustain prescribed safe school reopening requirements.

Adamu, in the guidelines released jointly signed by Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, on Monday, said that the assessment will be undertaken with interests of learners, teachers, and other education personnel in mind.

He noted that the Ministry, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Environment, the Federal Ministry of Health and health safety experts, developed the guidelines to plan and address the eventual safe reopening of schools and learning facilities across the country.

The Minister listed the guidelines to include the implementation of safe distancing measures that minimize and isolate risk; staggered attendance to avoid overcrowding; alternate attendance, division to morning and afternoon class, outdoor learning to limit transmission and also allows for safe distancing between learners and teachers, fumigation, hand washing among others.

He added that the guidelines were to ensure adequate preparation of schools and learning facilities for reopening and other ancillary activities without placing the health, safety, and security of learners, teachers, administrators, and other education personnel at risk.

“COVID-19 pandemic poses an enormous risk to the health and safety of learners, teachers, parents, school administrators, education practitioners, and the wider community. As a responsible government, it is also our duty to provide comprehensive guidelines for a safe and hitch-free reopening of schools and learning facilities. We do so knowing that the health, safety, and security of learners, teachers, education personnel, and families are priorities.

“Our aim is to identify and strengthen programmes that will guarantee the recovery of learning gaps resulting from the pandemic. The guidelines were drafted in close coordination with health, environmental, education, and school safety experts who were tasked with the responsibility of charting a pathway for safely reopening our schools and learning facilities for quality teaching and learning.

“The guidelines will assist federal, state, and local governments and their relevant ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs), families, communities, and authorities in decision-making, approach modelling, and operational planning for safely reopening schools, recovering pre-pandemic capacities, and institutionalising good safe school practices for the transformation of the education sector in the long term.

“The availability of these guidelines and implementation of its recommendations will ensure that all stakeholders within the educational system have a sense of their rights and responsibilities. In addition, this will help learners, teachers, parents, guardians, communities, and the larger society to trust the process of reopening and be assured that learning will continue in a safe and protective environment. This will also support governments in education reforms and effective service delivery during and post COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria,” it stressed.

It will be recalled that at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, schools and all learning facilities were closed in order to safeguard the health and general wellbeing of children, youths, teachers, and educational personnel.

Notable among the items in the guidelines are recommendations for the review of existing policies, practices, and risk mitigation strategies in the use of schools for other purposes, such as distance learning centers, temporary shelters, isolation, quarantine and treatment centers, markets, voting centers, among others.

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