FG Releases Fresh Guidelines for Reopening of Schools

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Sani Aliyu

Arrests 27 passengers for violating COVID-19 test requirements

Olawale Ajimotokan and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The federal government yesterday released fresh guidelines for the reopening of schools in the country.

The National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, made this known during a briefing in Abuja.

The federal government has also disclosed that it arrested 27 passengers at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, for not complying with the requirement that passengers arriving the country must have PCR negative results issued by certified laboratories outside the country.

PTF had okayed the reopening of schools in August with some subnational already reopening primary, secondary and tertiary institutions in their states.

The federal government had ordered all Unity Schools in the country to resume with effect from October 12.

Giving an update yesterday, Aliyu said, “The Federal Ministry of Education, the PTF and the NCDC (Nigeria Centre for Disease Control) have developed guidelines to ensure schools can reopen, minimise the risk of transmission and continue to operate safely.

“Schools and educational bodies that plan to reopen must have detailed communication protocols that include parents, school health teams, school authorities and local (and) state officials.

“They must also have a system for providing regular updates for parents, staff and relevant authorities as well as communicate changes to procedures effectively and clearly as well as taking effective measures to understand how COVID-19 can spread and how to mitigate the spread in line with official guidelines.

“Specifically, school authorities have the responsibilities to ensure that everyone gaining access to their schools is screened properly, is wearing a mask and sanitising their hands.

“Boarding schools must have identified areas for screening and putting positive students aside.

“There must be access to running water and handwashing facilities.

“The health staff, particularly in boarding schools, must be trained and provided with PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).

“There must be appropriate waste management systems.

“Health facilities that are within the schools that serve the schools should have the ability to cater for an outbreak and a response protocol must be in place for these schools for students who test positive. In this regard, it is important to involve their parents and make sure that parents have signed consent forms in advance.

“Schools should also work in synergy with the local government rapid response teams and collaborate with the state ministries of health on planning, implementation and reopening of schools.

“We encourage schools to consider creative solutions to abide by these guidelines.”

On his part, the PTF Chairman, Boss Mustapha, stressed that states have the responsibility to ensure the safe reopening of schools.

Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, said, “the federal government has just 105 schools all over the nation that are reopening. Over 18,000 schools do not belong to the federal government; they belong to states and private proprietors.

“The control of schools in the state, particularly primary and secondary schools, is the responsibility of the state government. They are supposed to ensure compliance.

“Different states fixed different dates for the reopening of schools. So, the responsibility of ensuring that these schools comply with the guidelines is vested on state and local government authorities and that we expect they will do.”

In his presentation, the Director General of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu said that the centre will in the coming days issue fresh guidelines that will help educational institutions resuming academic activities to operate without any major health concern.

Meanwhile, the federal government has said it has arrested 27 passengers at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja for not complying with the requirement that passengers arriving the country must have PCR negative results issued by certified laboratories outside the country.

The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika gave the information yesterday while presenting updates at the PTF briefing in Abuja.

Sirika said some of the passengers violated the protocol on PCR negative result by presenting to airport health authorities PCR negative tests result that were either unapproved or had expired.

He also said some of the passengers arrived the country without presenting any PCR result as required by the protocol on health safety, while adding that aside the erring passengers, the airlines that brought the passengers, will be liable and dealt with according to the law by
the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority.