The Federal Government has expressed optimism with regard to its ongoing plans to reopen educational institutions following months of a compulsory shut-down caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Daily Times had earlier reported that the Federal Government has sanctioned a phased reopening of schools in a bid to find a balance against the status quo, and also in view of the flattening COVID-19 curve in recent weeks.
This was disclosed in Abuja on Thursday by the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, following a meeting of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 with the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee (NTLC) on National Primary Health.
Daily Times gathered that the meeting was chaired by the Minister of Information and Culture on behalf of the Chairman of PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.
The meeting was organized to solicit the support of traditional rulers towards preventing community spread of COVID-19.
In his reaction to a question posed by Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Sa’ad Abubakar on the reopening of schools, Nwajiuba said the federal government is still critically evaluating the situation.
“At the moment, we have not come to the point where we can say we are convinced that schools can manage themselves and reopen comfortably.
“Our teams have gone out and we will use the whole of this week and next week to do a proper evaluation.
“We are going round to see the level of compliance but most importantly we are waiting to get an update on all the facilities in every part of Nigeria. So, it is a work in progress,” he said.
The Minister also stated that the government has leaned towards the opinions of experts who are of the view that 15 percent of transmission of COVID-19 stems from school environments, which is why they proposed remodeling of classes.
“We believe the experts that the school system is a suspect place for transmission and that is why we are working with them, particularly on guidelines.
“We are suggesting that classes be remodeled if there are no enough classrooms for social distancing,
“We can do tier system, some can come in the morning, may be the junior classes and the senior classes can come in the afternoon.
“We are also working out guidelines such as washing of hands because school must go on at one point,” he said.
The Minister noted that they experimented with the system in the past weeks during the ongoing West African Senior Certificate Examinations and the Joint Admission Matriculation Examination.
“We are lucky thus far because we only recorded an incident in Gombe where a child contacted COVID-19.
“We quickly isolated him and he recovered in time to join the class back.
“But that showed that these places are sources of spread,” he said.