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January 18 resumption date for schools stands, says FG

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• NAPPS cautions against extension

The Federal Government says the proposed resumption date of schools across the country on January 18, 2021 stands. In a statement, yesterday, the Director, Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Education, Mr. Ben Bem Goong, said the decision was taken after an extensive consultation with relevant stakeholders, including state governors, commissioners of education, proprietors and heads of institutions, staff unions and students.

The ministry urged teachers, school administrators and other stakeholders to ensure strict compliance with COVID-19 protocols, including compulsory wearing of facemasks by all students, teachers and workers in all schools, temperature checks and hand washing facilities at strategic locations in all schools.

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“Schools should also ensure constant supply of water and sanitizers, enforce maintenance of social distancing and suspension of large gatherings such as assembly and visiting days and avoid overcrowding, including limitations in class sizes and hostel occupancy.

“Schools must ensure functional health clinics with facilities for isolation and transportation of suspected cases to medical facilities and adherence to all other non-pharmaceutical protocols, restrictions and containment measures as may be prescribed/ approved by the PTF from time to time, ” the ministry further directed.

According to the statement, the measures, which are to ensure safe reopening of schools for academic activities, will be subject to constant review.

The affirmation of resumption date came, yesterday, as National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS) has advised the Federal Government against extending it.

The umbrella body of private school owners expressed grave concern over alleged plan by government to review the resumption date due to resurgence of COVID-19 infections in the country.

NAPPS highlighted the recent pronouncement of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) that schools are not drivers of the pandemic, noting that closure of schools due to COVID-19 will impact negatively on the development, safety and mental wellbeing of children globally.

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While appreciating the concerns of government and its efforts to keep schools safe, NAPPS disagreed with authorities on the review of the date, which could keep the schools closed.

At a virtual press briefing, yesterday, National President of NAPPS, Chief Yomi Otubela, said there was need to keep the schools open, noting that they have been at the forefront of support for strict adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols as recommended by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

“This assertion can be supported by clean bills of health received by various schools’ management during the earlier visits of government’s monitoring teams on COVID-19 safety protocols to schools in the country.

“We suggest staggered reopening of schools where some students attend schools in the morning and others in the afternoon or alternative days of the week, especially for public schools with high population of students, while this may not apply to private schools due to a manageable number of students per school,” NAPPS said.

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