FG to release guidelines for reopening of schools at a safe time, says PTF

The Federal Government is to issue guidelines for the reopening of schools nationwide and has therefore urged state local governments, proprietor and other stakeholders to begin to take steps to facilitate it.

Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 pandemic and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, who stated this at a briefing in Abuja on Wednesday, said government had been deliberating on the issue.

He assured pupils, students and parents that all hands are on deck to reopen schools at a safe time.

The chairman 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.

“The PTF has been deliberating on this situation and wishes to inform Nigerians that the Federal Ministry of Education will roll out measures to be put in place for safe reopening of our schools. The Minister of Education (State) will be elaborating on the subject, this afternoon. He will also clarify the purported announcement of the resumption date which went viral last week.

“The PTF wishes to use the occasion of this celebration to congratulate our children and assure them, their parents and all stakeholders alike that all hands are on deck to reopen the schools at a safe time. We therefore use this medium to urge states, local governments, proprietors and other stakeholders to begin to take steps that will facilitate an early and safe reopening.”

The SGF said on the effort to find a local solution to COVID-19 that three claimants have been identified as deserving of further investigation as he observed that the number of infections and death in Africa are lower than had been predicted.

He stated: “The subject of research has been central to the mandate, thinking and planning of the PTF. Studies have shown that Countries in Africa are so far experiencing a lower rate of transmission, fewer severe cases, and fewer deaths than had been predicted in previous estimates.

“A recent publication by WHO on risk modeling for 47 countries in the Africa Region predicts 82,000-190,000 deaths during the first year of the pandemic. However, African countries need to take measure to respond to this worst-case situation while also ensuring continuation of existing services would certainly stretch our already burdened health systems.

“Countries in the region need to progressively increase their capacity to detect cases, not just to know the extent of the outbreak, but also to identify and initiate care for people most at risk. They also need to expand capacity to mitigate the implications of widespread community transmission of COVID-19.

“Above all, more research to determine the underlying factors for the current trend in the pandemic in Africa is needed. In addition to pursuing this line of thought, the occurrences in Kano and some other cities have given us cause to launch our research initiatives using existing structures and systems in a manner that will build a legacy and also prepare Nigeria for any future pandemic.

“The PTF is happy to note that the Central Bank of Nigeria has indicated the willingness to support research efforts. This is therefore, a call on our researchers and scientists to take up the challenge.

“As a measure of the importance attached to research and development of local capacity for finding a cure to the COVID-19, the Federal Ministry of Health held a virtual meeting with a number of researchers and scientists with claims to cure for COVID 19 and out of the numerous claimants, three were found to deserve further investigation and have been forwarded to the relevant authorities for appropriate review.”

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