The federal government yesterday released new guidelines ahead of the planned resumption of schools without fixing a date for students to resume studies.
This is coming as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has said that new research findings have suggested that COVID-19 may indeed be airborne.
The guidelines outlined actions, measures and requirements needed for the safe reopening of schools after the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the guidelines released by the Federal Ministry of Education in Abuja yesterday, the safe distancing measures in the new guidelines required that in schools and other learning facilities, learners should be supported to stay two metres apart.
The guidelines, signed by the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, and Minister of State (Education), Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, were developed in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Environment, Federal Ministry of Health and health safety experts.
The document said: “However, there are exceptions where the two-metre 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 organising 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 document, 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.
The government said it was time for it to plan and address the eventual safe reopening of schools and learning facilities.
The guidelines included a review of 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 and voting centres, among others.
“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,” it stated.