The Federal Government has insisted that the January 18 resumption date for schools in the country remains intact despite fears over the surge in COVID-19 cases in Nigeria.
“After extensive consultations with relevant stakeholders, including State Governors, Commissioners of Education, Proprietors and heads of institutions, staff unions and students, the consensus of opinion is that the resumption date of 18th January should remain,” the Federal Ministry of Education said in a statement issued on Thursday by its Director, Press and Public Relations, Ben Bem Goong.
The Ministry, however, explained that all schools and parents must ensure strict compliance with COVID-19 protocols such as wearing of face masks, social distancing among others.
“These measures which are to ensure safe reopening of schools for academic activities will be subject to constant review as we urge teachers, school administrators and other stakeholders to ensure strict compliance,” the ministry added.
Earlier in the week, the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 had hinted that it would review the resumption date (January 18, 2020) for learning institutions in the country, citing the rising COVID-19 infections in Africa’s most populous nation.
This had sparked fears among many Nigerians that school resumption might be put on hold indefinitely even though many states in the country had set dates for the reopening of the learning centres.
The Federal Government had on December 21st ordered the closure of schools across the country until January 18, 2021, even though many learning institutions had ended classes for the year and set resumption dates for the first and second weeks of January 2021.
According to the Chairman of the PTF, Boss Mustapha, the closure of the schools was to allow the COVID-19 prevention measures introduced to take effect in the learning centres.
A Resurging Pandemic
In March 2020, the Nigerian government had ordered the immediate closure of schools, just weeks after the country recorded its first COVID-19 case. They were, however, reopened in October when the West African nation’s infection rates began to decline. But the second wave of the pandemic, a few months later, prompted authorities to shut down schools to forestall further spread of the disease.
The second wave of the pandemic in Nigeria has seen more persons contracting the disease and the nation surpassing the 100,000 case landmark on January 11th. A total of 1,382 persons have so far died from COVID-19 which was first reported on February 27th in Nigeria.
As of Wednesday, January 13, 2021, 103,999 cases of the virus have been confirmed in Nigeria and 82,555 of them treated and discharged.
FEDERAL MINISTRY OF EDUCATION,
office of the director (press & PR)
SCHOOL RESUMPTION DATE OF 18TH JANUARY 2021 STANDS MINISTER
Sequel to the hint given during the press 12 January 2021 for the review of the proposed resumption date of 18th January 2021, the Federal Ministry of Education has undertaken a comprehensive appraisal of the situation.
After extensive consultations with relevant stakeholders, including State Governors, Commissioners of Education, Proprietors and heads of institutions, staff unions and students, the consensus of opinion is that the resumption date of 18th January should remain, while parents and respective institutions must ensure full compliance with COVID-19 protocols including:-
(i) Compulsory wearing of Facemasks by all students, teachers and workers in all schools
(ii) Temperature checks and hand washing facilities at strategic locations in all schools
(iii) Ensuring constant supply of water and sanitizers
(iv) Enforcement of maintenance of social distancing and suspension of large gatherings such as assembly and visiting days.
(v) Avoiding overcrowding, including limitations in class sizes and hostel occupancy
(vi) Availability of functional health clinics with facilities for isolation and transportation of suspected cases to medical facilities
(vii) Adherence to all other non-pharmaceutical protocols, restrictions and containment measures as may be prescribed/ approved by the PTF from time to time.
These measures which are to ensure safe reopening of schools for academic activities will be subject to constant review as we urge teachers, school administrators and other stakeholders to ensure strict compliance.
Ben Bem Goong
Director, Press and Public Relations
14th January, 2021