Schools will remain closed until the Federal Government is sure pupils could attend classes without the risk of contracting COVID-19. Minister of State for Education Emeka Nwajiuba, who disclosed this at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF), said: “Until we are sure that our children can go to school and return safely without taking COVID-19 home, we are not ready to take the risk of opening schools.”
Clarifying that an announcement suggesting schools would reopen June 8, 2020 did not emanate from government, he said the administrationwould work in tandem with experts and the World Health Organisation (WHO) before schools can resume.
The Federal Ministry of Education will publish post-COVID-19 guidelines for school, he said. According to him, the government is working on a model to ensure that all children do not return at the same time, with a view to facilitating physical distancing and sanitation.
In his words: “We want all our children to go to school by the time the schools would have been able to achieve physical distancing. The plan entails adopting a two-shift system and allowing those who will write exams to return earlier than others.Use this period to upgrade skills and think of how to make their teachings impactful. We are looking at sanitary conditions of all the schools.
“SUBEB (State Universal Basic Education Board) should use some of the money we give them to upgrade sanitary conditions in schools. We are also looking at having sanitatisation booths, working with NASENI (National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure). It is a forewarning to private and state governments to ensure that these things are put in place before schools can reopen,” the minister said.
Nwajiuba explained that for tertiary institutions, there would be the need to have a semester within a semester for the students. He explained that some courses would run in a semester first while others would follow suit in order to maintain physical distancing.
He urged lecturers in tertiary institutions to use the period to upgrade themselves. “A period like this should not be wasted and tertiary institutions must be functioning,” he said.
For secondary schools, the minister said students in senior classes might resume before their junior counterparts. The plan, according to him, is that children should resume by the time schools have achieved physical distancing measures.
“We may have classes in the morning and afternoon at the moment, for the purpose of physical distancing, and all the infrastructure within the school will be used to achieve this,” he explained.
Schools must be ready to display hand sanitiser machines, he said, adding that a key condition for reopening would be the availability of all the materials needed to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Excerpts from Guardian NGR
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