FG plans staggered re-opening of schools

THE Federal Government has revealed that it may stagger re-opening of schools across the country as it plans to roll out comprehensive measures for safety.

Minster of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, made this known on Wednesday at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, in Abuja.

He also debunked reports in a section of the media purportedly announced by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and chairman of the task force, Mr Boss Mustapha, that schools would reopen on June 8 Nwajiuba, who reiterated that no date had been fixed for re-opening of schools, said the government wants to be sure that children can go to schools, return safely and not be conduit for the spreading of the virus in the society.

He said: “Throughout this week, we have been deliberating on what it will require for us to forge ahead and on this day that is Children’s Day, it is instructive for us to explain to them what it is that we are thinking and what it is that we are working on.

“We want to say number one, the material that the chairman of the PTF spoke about, which is an announcement purportedly from him that we are reopening all schools on June 8, 2020, did not emanate from us.

“Until we are sure that children can go to schools, return safely and not bring with them this COVID-19 then infect people who are more susceptible to the disease than they, then we are running a huge risk.

“God forbid, in our hurry, if anything happens to our children, I’m not sure anybody would be in any position to retrieve what has been lost.

“So, we are not taking that risk yet. We are going to prepare as much as possible within the guidance that they offer us with their expertise, working in conjunction with the World Health Organisation (WHO) before we reopen schools.”

The minister said the Federal Government would publish the specification as to what COVID-19 or postCOVID-19 reopening will look like, adding that “we have to understand that COVID-19 may not necessarily go away.”

The minister disclosed that universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and all their apparati of governance are currently functioning, adding that students’ resumption would be in phases.

He added: “For secondary schools, we expect that those who run them, our School-Based Management Committees (SBMCs), should be able to look at what they need to do to manage them, so that when we say we are ready, there will be some readiness on their part.”

Nwajiuba also noted that efforts would be made to ensure physical distancing is observed in all the schools, adding that this requires a rethink from the current way of doing things in the schools.

He promised that all schools would be fumigated before reopening, adding that the State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs) will use part of the intervention money from the Federal Government to upgrade the standard of sanitation in the schools, in addition to compulsory deployment of locally-made pedal-post hand-washing machines in the schools.

Chairman of the task force, Mustapha, urged local, state governments, proprietors and other stakeholders to begin to take steps to facilitate the reopening of schools.

He said: “Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the nation was faced with the challenge of out-of-school children. This has now been compounded by the compelling need for closure of schools, as part of the measures to limit the spread of the virus.”




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