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Updated: Nigerian govt directs schools to reopen October 12

FG reviewing Jan. 18 schools resumption date – Minister

Six months after schools were shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Federal Government of Nigeria has directed the 104 unity schools and all other schools in the country to reopen October 12, 2020.

Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, gave this directive in Abuja on Friday.

The minister, while briefing newsmen, said the decision to re-open schools came as the country is currently witnessing a considerable decline in Covid-19 cases and following consultations with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

Adamu recalled that in July, he informed the nation that the government will not reopen schools without adequate preparations and until the curve of infection rate is flattened.

“You may also have noticed that the infection curve nationwide has flattened considerably. In July 2020 when I stated that we will not reopen schools until the infection curve flattens, the country was recording an average of 400 infections daily.

“By the end of July and August, the infection rate peaked at an average of 700 cases daily. Since the beginning of September 2020, we have witnessed a considerable decline in the rate of infections now averaging 200 recorded cases daily,” he said.

“Consequently, with the level of preparations put to test and the flattening of the infection curve, we have come to the conclusion that we have to review our earlier decision especially against the realization that COVID-19 has come to stay and that we have to live with it. We have decided that all our 104 Unity Colleges should reopen on the 12th of October, 2020,” Adamu said.

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The minister also said another reason which informed the decision is the fact that no single case of Covid-19 was recorded among students who reopened to write exams across the unity schools.

“I am glad to report that in all our 104 Unity Colleges, there has not been a single case of COVID-19 infection so far.

“It is gratifying to note that on the whole, there has not being a single fatality amongst the exiting students,” he said.

He informed that the isolated cases recorded in other schools are minimal.

Adamu noted that the government has consulted widely with stakeholders, putting together guidelines for reopening of schools and preparations required of school owners to reopen.

He said the government consulted with the Association of Private School Owners of Nigeria (APSON), National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), Provosts of Colleges of Education, Rectors of Polytechnics, Vice-Chancellors of Universities, State Governors, development partners, and Commissioners of Education.

The minister, therefore, called on states and private school owners to work out modalities for the opening of schools under their purview.

He specifically directed school owners to “develop and display at schools, simple context-specific reference protocols on day to day actions to be operated in each school, for safe distancing procedures”.

“Conduct risk assessment with a view to understanding the gaps in the system that can increase the risk of transmission and make recommendations for addressing the gaps.

“Safety and hygiene in all stages and phases of the school reopening process which promote behaviours that reduce spread, such as school commutes (to and from school travelling), safe distancing, frequent hand washing and the use of facemasks,” he said.

Other guiding frameworks include sensitization and monitoring procedures and to ensure adequate Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities across the school premises.

The minister also urged the use of open spaces for gathering and promoting outdoor activities.

“There should be regular temperature checks for all the visitors coming into the schools using infrared thermometers. Establish a staff/students committee for regular surveillance, monitoring and enforcement of COVID-19 guidelines,” he said.

The minister warned that any school owner that does not comply with these guidelines and an outbreak occurs in the school due to negligence risks closure.

“Be vigilant, strict and rigid in the implementation of COVID-19 protocols for the safety of our children and ourselves as we reopen schools. Nothing should be taken for granted,” he warned.