The Federal Government has released new guidelines ahead of the planned resumption of schools in the country.
The guidelines, which failed to disclose the date of school resumption, according to PUNCH, was signed by the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu and Minister of State (Education), Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba.
It was developed in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Environment, Federal Ministry of Health and health safety experts in the country
The guidelines outlined actions, measures and requirements needed for the safe reopening of schools after the coronavirus pandemic.
The guidelines released yesterday, July 13, requires that students should be aided to maintain social distancing and stay at least 2 meters apart.
The guidelines dealt extensively on plans for school reopening and operations, including attendance, social distancing, hygiene, cleaning, and non-pharmaceutical interventions for safe and healthy school activities and programmes.
Mallam Adamu explained that the need to develop the guidelines became imperative, “given that the coronavirus may be with us for a while.”
On social distancing in schools, the document reads,
“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.”
With the release of the guidelines, 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.
Notable among the items in the guidelines are recommendations for the review of existing policies, practices, and risk mitigation strategies in the use of schools for other purposes, such as distance learning centres, temporary shelters, isolation, quarantine and treatment centres, markets, voting centres, among others.
The document adds:
“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.”
Adamu said the guidelines also highlight the urgent need to maintain and improve upon distance-learning programmes. The minister added:
“Our aim is to identify and strengthen programmes that will guarantee the recovery of learning gaps resulting from the pandemic.
“The guidelines were drafted in close coordination with health, environmental, education, and school safety experts who were tasked with the responsibility of charting a pathway for safely reopening our schools and learning facilities for quality teaching and learning.”