BY LEVI JOHNSON
Some process to reopen schools and worship centres in the country has begun.
It was learnt that the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has met with Christian and Islamic leaders to fine-tune the conditions for reopening churches and mosques.
Also on Wednesday, the PTF urged states, local governments and private proprietors to begin to take steps towards the return of pupils and students.
Ensuring the kids go to school safety is the critical issue before the reopening, Minister of State, Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, said at the daily briefing by the PTF in Abuja.
Schools, from primary to tertiary were closed nationwide by the government in March at the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic spread.
Since then, pupils and students have been at home. Some schools have been organising virtual lessons and lectures.
PTF Chairman Boss Mustapha using the advantage of the Children’s Day celebration assured: “them and their parents that all hands are on deck to reopen schools at a safe time.”
Listing some of the conditions, the minister, who denied that the government had given a June 8 date, said: “Those who are listening to us here should begin to listen to these plans. We don’t want to keep saying we are not ready. It is a forewarning to private and state governments that the only condition for which we are going to be reopening anywhere is that these places become ready to receive students and bring them home safely.”
The minister added that the reopening of schools may be staggered between students in junior and secondary levels to allow for social and physical distancing.
He said the government would consider introducing afternoon classes to ease crowdedness.
“We will do the same thing for primary school children where we may limit the number of children per class.
“What this may mean also is that we may have classes in the mornings, and then, have classes in the afternoons. So, whichever is convenient for you will now be divided. So that the whole of the infrastructure we have provided can serve us at different times.
“I am not sure whether there will be classes at night. We can do with morning and afternoon at the moment.”
The minister said that the ministry would also look at the sanitary condition of the schools before reopening, noting that schools must be ready to display manually-made hand sanitisers’ machine and be ready to receive the students by providing all the needed materials to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Nwajiuba explained that for tertiary institutions, there would need to have a semester within a semester for the students.
He added that while some courses would do their semester first, others would follow suit in a bid to maintain social distancing measure.
He urged lecturers in tertiary institutions to use the period to upgrade themselves.
“Period like this should not be wasted and tertiary institutions must be functioning.’’
For secondary school students, the minister said that those in senior secondary might resume before their junior counterparts.
He said the plan was that the children should resume by the time schools had achieved the real distancing measure.
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He said: “For our secondary schools, we expect those who run them; our school-based management committee (SBMC) should be able to look at what they need to do to manage them (schools) so that when we say that we are ready, there will be some readiness alongside everybody.
“We are going to publish a specification as to what we expect COVID -19 or post-COVID-19 to look like. We are not talking about coping with COVID -19. There is a difference. We have come to understand that COVID -19 May not necessarily go away. So, we expect that we will adapt in the presence of Covid-19 what to do not in the absence of it. This is in spite of Covid-19 we will still have to work.