Nigerian Schools To Reopen Monday, Jan 18 Amid Updated Safety Measures

“Enforcement of maintenance of social distancing and suspension of large gatherings such as assembly and visiting days.

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The Federal Government has approved the reopening of all schools on January 18 in the country even as the Covid-19 cases rise across the country.  The Federal Ministry of Education has however updated the guidelines for school reopening and has suspended the holding of assemblies and visiting days in schools.

In a statement by the ministry’s Director of Press and Public Relations, Ben Bem Goong, titled, ‘School resumption date of January 18, 2021 stands – Minister’ released last Thursday, the ministry said “After extensive consultations with relevant stakeholders, including State Governors, Commissioners of Education, Proprietors and heads of institutions, staff unions, and students, the consensus of opinion is that the resumption date of 18th January should remain, while parents and respective institutions must ensure full compliance with COVID-19 protocols including – the compulsory wearing of Facemasks by all students, teachers, and workers in all schools.

Other measures include:

“Temperature checks and handwashing facilities at strategic locations in all schools.

“Ensuring a constant supply of water and sanitizers.

“Enforcement of maintenance of social distancing and suspension of large gatherings such as assembly and visiting days.

“Avoiding overcrowding, including limitations in class sizes and hostel occupancy.

“Availability of functional health clinics with facilities for isolation and transportation of suspected cases to medical facilities.

“Adherence to all other non-pharmaceutical protocols, restrictions and containment measures as may be prescribed/ approved by the PTF from time to time.

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“These measures which are to ensure the safe reopening of schools for academic activities will be subject to constant review as we urge teachers, school administrators, and other stakeholders to ensure strict compliance.”

The Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 and the  Nigeria Centre for Disease Control along with the Federal Ministry of Health have developed guidelines also developed the following guidelines:

  1. Health facilities that are within the schools that serve the schools should have the ability to cater to an outbreak and a response protocol must be in place for these schools for students who test positive. In this regard, it is important to involve their parents and make sure that parents have signed consent forms in advance.
  2. Schools should also work in synergy with the local government rapid response teams and collaborate with the state ministries of health on planning, implementation and reopening of schools.
  3. They must also have a system for providing regular updates for parents, staff and relevant authorities as well as communicate changes to procedures effectively and clearly as well as taking effective measures to understand how COVID-19 can spread and how to mitigate the spread in line with official guidelines.
  4. Specifically, school authorities have the responsibilities to ensure that everyone gaining access to their schools is screened properly, is wearing a mask and sanitizing their hands.
  5. Boarding schools must have identified areas for screening and putting positive students aside.
  6. There must be access to running water and handwashing facilities.
  7. The health staff, particularly in boarding schools, must be trained and provided with PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).
  8. There must be appropriate waste management systems.
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