The Federal Government has released fresh guidelines for the reopening of schools in the country.
The National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Sani Aliyu, said schools and educational bodies that plan to reopen must have detailed communication protocols that include parents, school health teams, school authorities and local state officials.
He disclosed this during a briefing in Abuja on Thursday.
Schools in the country had been shut for more than four months as part of measures to curb the spread of the novel disease.
Aliyu said: “The Federal Ministry of Education, the PTF and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, have developed guidelines to ensure schools can reopen, minimise the risk of transmission and continue to operate safely.
“Schools and educational bodies that plan to reopen must have detailed communication protocols that include parents, school health teams, school authorities and local (and) state officials.
“They must also have a system for providing regular updates for parents, staff and relevant authorities as well as communicate changes to procedures effectively and clearly as well as taking effective measures to understand how COVID-19 can spread and how to mitigate the spread in line with official guidelines.
“Specifically, school authorities have the responsibilities to ensure that everyone gaining access to their schools is screened properly, is wearing a mask and sanitising their hands.
“Boarding schools must have identified areas for screening and putting positive students aside.
“There must be access to running water and handwashing facilities. The health staff, particularly in boarding schools, must be trained and provided with PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).
“There must be appropriate waste management systems.
“Health facilities that are within the schools that serve the schools should have the ability to cater for an outbreak and a response protocol must be in place for these schools for students who test positive.
“In this regard, it is important to involve their parents and make sure that parents have signed consent forms in advance.
“Schools should also work in synergy with the local government rapid response teams and collaborate with the state ministries of health on planning, implementation and reopening of schools.
“We encourage schools to consider creative solutions to abide by these guidelines.”
Also speaking, the PTF Chairman, Boss Mustapha, said states have the responsibility to ensure the safe reopening of schools.
He said: “The Federal Government has just 105 schools all over the nation that are reopening. Over 18,000 schools do not belong to the Federal Government; they belong to states and private proprietors.
“The control of schools in the state, particularly primary and secondary schools, is the responsibility of the state government. They are supposed to ensure compliance.
“Different states fixed different dates for the reopening of schools. So, the responsibility of ensuring that these schools comply with the guidelines is vested on state and local government authorities and that we expect they will do.”