The Federal Government has on Thursday said it’s not convinced that schools in Nigeria should re-open after the shut-down in February due to the prevailing coronavirus pandemic.
Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, the Minister of State for Education, stated this in Abuja at a meeting of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 with the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee (NTLC) on National Primary Health.
The meeting was presided over 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 to seek the support of the traditional rulers towards preventing community spread of COVID-19.
Responding to a question from Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Sa’ad Abubakar, on school reopening, Nwajiuba said the federal government is still 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 said the government strongly believed in the opinions of experts that 15 per cent of transmission of the pandemic is from the school environment and that was why they proposed remodelling of classes.
“We believe the experts that a 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 remodelled if there are not enough classrooms for social distancing,
“We can do a tier system, some can come in the morning, maybe the junior classes and the senior classes can come in the afternoon.
“We are also working out guidelines such as the washing of hands because the school must go on at one point,” he said.
The Minister said they experimented the system in the past weeks during the West African School 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. (NAN