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FG GUIDELINES FOR SCHOOLS REOPENING AFTER COVID-19 PANDEMIC CLOSURE

SCHOOLS REOPENING

The conditions for schools reopening contained in guidelines submitted to the National Assembly by the Federal Ministry of Education, may force some schools to close down their operations.

The document, obtained by our correspondents is titled, “Guidelines for schools and learning facilities reopening after COVID-19 pandemic closure.”

According to the document, schools are required to create temporary isolation space and fully equipped clinics before reopening.

Schools are also to establish a referral system, including protocols and procedures to take if learners, teachers, administrators and other education personnel become unwell while in school.

Apart from that, the Federal Government in the document, mandated any state wishing to reopen schools to hold adequate consultations with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and the parents.

The guidelines also require school proprietors to construct additional structures and employ more teachers to ensure that they accommodate their pupils by adhering to the two-metre spacing system in classrooms.

Proprietors of schools have also been asked to seek grants to procure soap and buckets, ensure regular safe water supply, ensure constant supply of learning and instructional materials and pay salaries on time.

The Federal Ministry of Education had presented to the National Assembly, a detailed proposal on its plan to reopen schools across the country.

The Minister of State for Education, Mr Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, appeared before the Senate Committee on Basic and Secondary Education on Tuesday, but refused to give details of the proposal.

According to the ministry, reopening of schools demands that sufficient provisions, including infrastructure, equipment and expertise, be available in the schools as stipulated in the guidelines.

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The guidelines, it said, were to ensure maximum possible safety and protection against COVlD-19 infection, and effective response if anyone exhibits symptoms associated with COVID-19 Infection.

The document read “It is equally crucial that consultations are held and communication exchanged with parents, teachers, learners and communities to understand and address common concerns.”

To observe safe distancing in schools and other learning facilities, the document recommends that students are to stay two metres apart according to the NCDC’s public advice. The ministry, however, cited exceptional cases.

It said, “However, there are exceptions where the two-metres rule cannot be reasonably applied and other risk mitigation strategies may be adopted.

“Examples include early years, younger primary school children and those with additional needs.

“In these circumstances, risk assessments must be undertaken with the best interests of the learners, teachers and other education personnel in mind.

“The scenarios require organising learners and children into small groups with consistent membership and compliance to the two-metres safe distancing guideline.

“The membership of these groups should not change unless the NCDC public health guideline suggests otherwise. The safety and hygiene measures outlined in this document should, as in all cases, be followed carefully. It is imperative that safe distancing between adult staff working with such groups be maintained.”

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