The Federal Government has released guidelines ahead of the planned resumption of schools at every level in the country.
The government, however, did not disclose the date for school reopening.
The Federal Ministry of Education released the guidelines in Abuja on Monday, the safe distancing measures in the new guidelines required that in schools and other learning facilities, learners should be supported to stay two meters apart.
Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu and Minister of State (Education), Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba signed the guidelines, saying it was developed in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Environment, Federal Ministry of Health and health safety experts in the country.
“However, there are exceptions where the two-meter rule cannot be reasonably applied and other risk mitigation strategies may be adopted. Examples include early years, younger primary school children, and those with additional needs.
“In these circumstances, risk assessments must be undertaken with the best interests of the learners, teachers, and other education personnel in mind. The scenarios require organizing learners and children into small groups with consistent membership and compliance with the risk mitigation strategies. The membership of these groups should not change unless the NCDC public health guideline suggests otherwise,” the document said.
According to The Punch, with the release of the document, the government would conduct a rapid assessment and determine funding requirement for upgrading infrastructure and facilities (such as classrooms, furniture, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene-WASH and ICT facilities) to meet and sustain prescribed safe school reopening requirements.
The government said it was time for it to plan and address the eventual safe reopening of schools and learning facilities.
The guidelines included a review of existing policies, practices, and risk mitigation strategies in the use of schools for other purposes, such as distance learn-ing centres, temporary shelters, isolation, quarantine and treatment centres, markets, voting centres, among others.
“COVID – 19 pandemic poses an enormous risk to the health and safety of learners, teachers, parents, school administrators, education practitioners, and the wider community…More than 1.5 billion children and young people globally have been affected by school and university closures.
As a responsible government, it is also our duty to provide comprehensive guidelines for a safe and hitch-free reopening of schools and learning facilities. We do so knowing that the health, safety, and security of learners, teachers, education personnel, and families are priorities”, it stressed.
The guidelines dealt extensively on equitable plans for school reopening and operations, focusing on attendance, social distancing, hygiene, cleaning, and non-pharmaceutical interventions for safe and healthy school activities and programmes.
Adamu explained that the need to develop the guidelines became imperative, “given that COVID – 19 may be with us for a while.”