Fred Ezeh, Abuja

The Federal Government on Monday released a document containing guidelines for safe reopening of schools in Nigeria, insisting that the recommendations contained therein must be followed before schools can be reopened.

The document advised that the timing for reopening, particularly for state governments, should be guided by the best interest of learners and overall public health considerations, based on an assessment of the associated benefits and risks, and informed by cross-sectorial and context-specific evidence, including education, public health, and socioeconomic factors.

It suggested that decision regarding the safe reopening of schools should involve all major stakeholders, including government at all levels, communities, and the civil society to ensure that decisions and planned actions are based on comprehensive analysis, consensus, and adequate consideration for context.

It also suggested that Federal and State Ministries of Education (SMoE) should decide when to reopen schools after due consultations with the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 (PTF) and other critical stakeholders, including parents/guardians, teachers’ unions, communities, education service providers, PTA, and School-Based Management Committee (SMBCs).

The document requested that learners in schools and other learning facilities should be supported to stay two meters apart. They must also implement safe distancing measures that minimise and isolate risk.

As such, they may offer some alternative learning models such as outdoor learning, staggered and alternate attendance, platooning, decreased interaction, flexible schedules and creative delivery.

Additionally, the document insisted that Federal and State Ministries of Education must consider the understanding of the pandemic and its severity in children when deciding on whether to close, partially close, or reopen
schools and other learning facilities.

Also, they should consider local situation and epidemiology of COVID-19 where the schools are located, as well as the setting of the schools and learning facilities, and their ability to maintain COVID-19 prevention and control measures.

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