COVID-19: FG Considers Policy For Reopening Of Schools

Mr. Boss Mustapha

SAN FRANCISCO, May 28, (THEWILL) – The Federal Government has disclosed that it would soon unveil the policy for safe reopening of schools, saying it’s also weighing the option of running two classes in the morning and afternoon in secondary schools to enable students make up for lost grounds.

Speaking Wednesday in Abuja during a press briefing by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, the Chairman of the task force and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, assured Nigerians that plans for the safe reopening of schools across the country would soon be unveiled.

“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 the safe reopening 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.”

Also speaking at the briefing, the Minister of State for Education, Mr. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, assured Nigerian children that all hands were on deck to reopen schools at a safe time and urged states, local governments, proprietors and other stakeholders to begin to take steps that would facilitate an early and safe reopening.

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Nwajiuba said until the government is sure that children could go to school, and return safely without being infected, it would not take that risk of reopening the schools yet saying it would publish post-COVID-19 guidelines for school reopening.

Nwajiuba disclosed that the announcement that schools would be reopening on June 8 did not emanate from the federal government, adding that the government would work with the guidance of experts and the World Health Organisation (WHO) before it reopens the schools.

The minister said the government is 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.

“We are going to publish a specification on what we expect COVID-19 or post-COVID-19 reopening to look like. We are not talking about coping with COVID-19 but in spite of COVID-19, we expect that we will adapt.

“For a country that has over 115,000 primary schools, you will understand that 35,000 of these who are private must agree to set up the same standard in order to allow children to go in.

“We may have classes in the morning and classes in the afternoon so that we will have the whole of the infrastructure divided, provided they can serve us. I am not sure we will have classes at night. But we can do with morning and afternoon for now.

“The plan entails adopting a two-shift system and allowing those who will write exams to return earlier than others. Use this period to upgrade skills and think of how to make their teachings impactful. Those running the secondary schools should think of what to do.

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“We are looking at sanitary conditions of all the schools. SUBEB should use some of the monies we give them to upgrade sanitary conditions in schools. We are also looking at having sanitisation booths working with NASENI. It is a forewarning to private and state governments to ensure that these things are put in place before schools can reopen.”