The Federal Government has released safety guidelines ahead of the planned reopening of schools at every level in the country.
Schools had been forced to close nationwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Federal Ministry of Education on Monday, the 52-paged document titled “Guidelines for Schools and Learning Facilities reopening after COVID-19 pandemic closures” was developed in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Environment, Federal Ministry of Health and health safety experts in the country.
It lays out actions, measures and requirements needed for the safe reopening of schools after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The guidelines deal extensively on equitable plans for school reopening and operations, focusing on attendance, social distancing, hygiene, cleaning, and non-pharmaceutical interventions for safe and healthy school activities and programmes.
The safe distancing measures in the new guidelines require that in schools and other learning facilities, learners should be supported to stay two metres apart.
“However, there are exceptions where the two-meter 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,” the document reads.
“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 organizing learners and children into small groups with consistent membership and compliance with the risk mitigation strategies. The membership of these groups should not change unless the NCDC public health guideline suggests otherwise.”
The document urges Federal and States Ministries of Education to consult the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Federal Ministry of Health, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and other critical stakeholders, before they decide when to reopen.
“Federal and States Ministries of Education should decide when to reopen after due consultations with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Federal Ministry of Health, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and other critical stakeholders, including non-state education providers, teachers’ unions, PTAs, and school-based management committees (SBMCs),” it states.
“It is equally crucial that consultations are held and communication exchanged with parents, teachers, learners, and communities to understand and address common concerns.
“Decisions on safe reopening should be contingent on meeting the requirements set out in these guidelines and on a case-by-case basis for each school and learning facility.”
With the release of the document, the government will conduct a rapid assessment and determine funding requirement for upgrading infrastructure and facilities (such as classrooms, furniture, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene-WASH and ICT facilities) to meet and sustain prescribed safe school reopening requirements.
The document was signed by the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu and Minister of State (Education), Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba.