FG to schools: Create temporary isolation space and fully equipped clinics before reopening

THE Federal Government has issued stringent guidelines for the reopening of schools, stating that schools must create temporary isolation and fully equipped clinics.

Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, Minister of State for Education presented the document, “Guidelines for Schools and Learning Facilities Reopening after COVID-19 Pandemic Closure to the National Assembly for review, The PUNCH reported.

Nwajiuba said the guidelines were to ensure maximum possible safety and protection against COVlD-19 infection, and effective response if anyone exhibits symptoms associated with COVID-19 Infection.

According to the guidelines, schools are also to establish a referral system, including protocols and procedures to take if learners, teachers, administrators and other education personnel become unwell while in school.

The document further stated that reopening of schools demands that sufficient provisions, including infrastructure, equipment and expertise, be available in the schools as stipulated in the guidelines.

“School proprietors are also required to construct additional structures and employ more teachers to ensure that they accommodate their pupils by adhering to the two-metre spacing system in classrooms,” it said.

The guidelines also require proprietors of schools to seek grants to procure soap and buckets, ensure regular safe water supply, ensure constant supply of learning and instructional materials and pay salaries on time.

The document stated that schools should ensure that crucial consultations are held and communication exchanged with parents, teachers, learners and communities to understand and address common concerns.”

To observe safe distancing in schools and other learning facilities, the document recommends that students are to stay two metres apart according to the NCDC’s public advice. The ministry, however, cited exceptional cases.

“However, there are exceptions where the two-metres rule cannot be reasonably applied and other risk mitigation strategies may be adopted.”

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“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.”

It further required organising learners and children into small groups with consistent membership and compliance to the two-metres safe distancing guideline.

“The membership of these groups should not change unless the NCDC public health guideline suggests otherwise.

The safety and hygiene measures outlined in this document should, as in all cases, be followed carefully. It is imperative that safe distancing between adult staff working with such groups be maintained.”

The Federal Government also proposed alternative learning models for safe distancing which include the use of shelter outdoors which the ministry said is necessary for the protection and safety of learners and teachers. In addition, safety in all weathers and security measures is required for each location.

The ministry also suggested staggered attendance where learners may arrive and depart at different times to avoid overcrowding, adding that schools might reopen gradually, starting with particular grade levels to ensure compliance with the NCDC guidelines, development and dissemination of safe school reopening checklist to assist appropriate evidence-based decisions to reopen schools.

The government further proposed “platooning” where classes may be divided into morning and afternoon shifts and “decreased interaction where students may remain in one location’ with teachers coming to them and a flexible schedule and creative delivery.

It also suggested a gradual and phased reopening which can then be considered while prioritising learners who are vulnerable, have reduced access to distance learning modalities, and/or are in examination classes.

This, it said would help assess the readiness of schools and learning facilities to reopen fully to all learners. In addition, this would serve to minimise the risk of resurgence of coronavirus infections.”

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The review of existing policies, practices and risk mitigation strategies in the use of schools for other purposes, such as distance learning centres, temporary shelters and isolation.

Other conditions listed are “disinfecting and fumigation of facilities, including hostel accommodation, with particular attention given to those used as temporary isolation and treatment centres and for other purposes during the pandemic.

“Sensitise, train and build capacity of teachers, administrators and other education personnel to effectively use and comply with the School COVID-19 Referral System and protocols for safe distancing and hygiene in schools,” the guidelines said.

The Federal Government mandated any state wishing to reopen schools to hold adequate consultations with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and the parents.

 

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