By Williams Anuku, Abuja
Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu on Friday, gave a directive that schools in the country can now resume normal academic activities by October 12.
The directive was also extended to public and private tertiary institutions, even though the Academic Staff Union of Universities ASUU in public universities have been adamant to resume owing to differences in the implementation of the Integrated Personnel Payroll and Information System IPPIS.
Making the announcement on Friday, in his office, Adamu explained that he had taken pains to consult with stakeholders in the sector, some of which included the Association of Private School Owners of Nigeria (APSON), National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), Provost of Colleges of Education, Rectors of Polytechnics, Vice-Chancellors of universities, State Governors among other development partners.
He said he was skeptical to order the reopening of schools even though he was also under intense pressure to do so.
According to him, ‘I had indicated at the Wednesday 8th July, 2020 Federal Executive Council meeting that until the curve of infection rate of Covid-19 is flattened and adequate preparations put in place, it will be unsafe to reopen schools”.
He said consequent upon these consultations, schools for exit classes in the 104 Unity Colleges were directed to resume and sit for their examination and gladly no single case of Covid-19 infection was reported.
His words, “After due consultation with the Presidential Committee on COVID-19, we have decided that all our 104 Unity Colleges should reopen on the 12th of October 12th, 2020.
” State and Private School owners will work out the modalities for the re-opening of schools under their purview”.
With the latest instruction from the government, school owners are expected to ensure social distancing procedures, develop and display at schools, simple context-specific reference protocols on day to day actions and conduct a risk assessment with a view to understanding the gaps in the system that can increase the risk of transmission.
The Minister emphasized that there should be safety and hygiene procedures in all stages and phases of the school reopening process which will promote behaviours that will reduce spread.
The resumption formalities are also expected to conform with the establishment of a staff/students committee for regular surveillance, monitoring, and enforcement of COVID 19 guidelines, including regular temperature checks for all visitors coming into the schools, using infrared thermometers.
The Minister however warned that any school owner that does not comply with the guidelines and outbreak occurs in such an institution owing to negligence, risk closure.
“Let me warn that any school owner that does not comply with these guidelines and an outbreak occurs in the school due to negligence, risks closure. Be vigilant, strict and rigid in the implementation of Covid-19 protocols for the safety of our children and ourselves as we reopen schools.
“Nothing should be taken for granted, let me use this opportunity to thank and appreciate the Federal Ministry of Environment, the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 and other stakeholders for the various roles they have played which have brought us this far,” he stated.
Recall that while the emergence of Covid-19 infections destabilized the world in early March 2020, governments all over the globe were compelled to impose drastic measures to curb the spread, a development that also resulted in academic activities grounded.
However, while researches for vaccines are ongoing in advanced climes, countries are adopting a cautious mechanism to return to normalcy.