…warns of immediate closure of schools with COVID-19 outbreak
About six months after closure of schools nationwide to stem the transmission of COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Government has directed all schools in the country to reopen for academic activities with strict adherence to COVID- 19 guidelines on schools reopening.
The minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, who gave the directive on Friday in Abuja, specifically directed all Federal Colleges also known as Unity schools, to reopen on October 12. Saturday Telegraph recalls that the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, had on September 3, asked schools to begin preparations to reopen within 30 days, which falls into the third phase of the gradual easing of the lockdown expected to last for a period of four weeks.
As a result, some states including Lagos, Oyo, Kano and Enugu have since announced school resumption dates in their states. Adamu, who said the decision was reached after exhaustive discussions with education stakeholders in the public and private sector as well as international and development partners, urged all state and private schools to work out their modalities to reopen their schools. According to him, the decision was premised on the flattened COVID-19 infection curve in the country, and the near zero rate of COVID-19 infections among students of exit classes earlier allowed them to resume and sit for their examinations.
He said: “We have consulted widely with stakeholders in the sector, including the Association of Private School Owners of Nigeria (APSON), National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), and Provost of Colleges of Education. “Others are Rectors of Polytechnics, Vice-Chancellors of Universities, state governors, our development partners, Commissioners for Education and relevant international organisations. “Consequent upon these consultations, we developed detailed guidelines for reopening our learning facilities.
“Taking the first step, we reopened schools for exit classes to take their National Examinations. I am glad to report that in all our 104 Unity Colleges, there has not been a single case of COVID-19 infection so far. “The isolated cases we have had in other schools are minimal.
It is gratifying to note that on the whole, there has not been a single fatality among the existing students. “You may also have noticed that the infections curve nationwide has flattened considerably “In July when I stated that we would not reopen schools until the infection rate flattens, the country was recording an average of 400 infections daily. ”By the end of July and August, the infection rate peaked at an average of 700 cases daily. Since the beginning of September, we have witnessed a considerable decline in the rate of infections now averaging 200 recorded cases daily.
“Consequently, with the level of preparations put to test and the flattening of the infection curve, we have come to the conclusion that we have to review our earlier decision, especially against the realisation that COVID-19 had come to stay and that we have to live with it. “So, after due consultation with the Presidential Committee on COVID-19, we have decided that all our 104 Unity Colleges should reopen on October 12. “States and private school owners will work out the modalities for the reopening of schools under their purview.” Adamu however, warned that any school, which records an outbreak of the pandemic due to its failure to adhere to the COVID-19 guidelines, would be closed down immediately.