The Federal Government, on Monday, activated 60, 000 Environmental Health Emergency Volunteers Corp (EHEVC) to monitor schools across the 774 Local Governments in Nigeria, following its decision to reopen schools on Monday, October 12, after seven months of closure due to deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister of Environment, Dr Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, who disclosed in Abuja while addressing newsmen, said the volunteers would be working with other stakeholders at the sub-national levels to monitor schools in accordance with the guidelines for the safe reopening of schools.
According to him: “The roles of the environmental sector generally and specifically that of the environmental health practitioners includes participating in developing detailed protocols, establishment and maintaining prescribed hygiene standards and practices including Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).”
He said the ministry would monitor compliance with prescribed standards through a network of monitoring and evaluation team across Nigeria, directing environmental health departments at all national levels to work collaboratively with respective education ministries and departments to succeed.
Dr Abubakar further directed environmental health officers working in the states and local governments to key into the training of teachers, administrators and other education personnel on safety and hygiene measures namely disinfection, safe distancing, hand hygiene, use of face mask/shields, respiratory hygiene and waste management.
For schools wishing to outsource terminal and concurrent decontamination/disinfection, the minister enjoined them to strictly adhere to the provisions of the National Environmental Health Practice Regulations 2016 by engaging only persons and firms licenced by the Environmental Health Registration Council of Nigeria for the safety and healthful living of learners and teachers as only decontamination certificates issued by licenced professionals who practice nationwide are valid.
“Let me strongly advocate that on account of the need to ensure that safety, health and well-being of both learners and care-givers are maintained, licensed environmental health officers should be engaged by school proprietors, who will be responsible for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programmes and activities in the schools including regular and routine sanitary inspection of premises.” He added.