By Harry Awurumibe, Editor, Abuja Bureau
Apparently to avoid a spike in Coronavirus (Covid-19) disease when schools restart, the Federal Government may opt for gradual reopening but not before some stringent measures have been put in place to safeguard the health of pupils and students in Nigerian schools.
This much was disclosed on Wednesday in Abuja by the Minister of State for Education, Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba while giving an update on the plans to reopen schools in Nigeria at the daily press briefing of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 Pandemic.
Nwajiuba revealed that the Federal Ministry of Education is considering many options to safeguard the children, wards and students before the schools will be reopened.
He said that such options include reopening schools after the relevant Federal Government agencies are certified that children, wards and students will not be carriers of Covid-19.
According to him, “We are considering a staggered reopening of schools. We are looking at bringing back Junior Secondary School (JSS) 3 and Senior Secondary School (SSS) 3 then others can follow.”
Nwajiuba posited that the ministry is being guided by the advice of experts as well as those of the World Health Organisation, noting that the decision to reopen schools in the country would be carefully arrived at because education is on the concurrent list of the Nigerian Constitution.
He spoke further, “Also in the case of tertiary institutions, they may reopen department by department in a way that we will not have many people congregating together”.
“Most importantly, schools can run shifts with morning and evening sessions to reduce the number of people in the school while the number of people in the class will be reduced”, he stated.
Nwajiuba disclosed that the Ministry is looking at all options but cannot do anything without the approval of the experts; the Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria Center for Disease Control NCDC and Federal Ministry of Environment.
“We (FMoE) cannot just open the schools without the advice of the experts like the Federal Ministry of Health and NCDC as well as the Ministry of6 Environment. We have interfaced with my ‘senior brother’, the Hon. Minister of Environment and we have been assured that all the schools will be decontaminated. We don’t want our children, wards and students to go to school and come back with a disease”, Nwajiuba stated.
The Minister also said that certain things will have to be put in place to safeguard the children and wards including automated hand washing equipment that will be placed in schools while teachers and school operators will be trained in handling health issues to safeguard the children.
The Minister also revealed that his ministry has met with the Minister of Science and Technology to explore ways Nigerian industries and institutions of higher learning to leverage on their recent technological innovations to manufacture automated hand washing and sanitizing equipment.