The Federal Government on Thursday said it has not come to a point where it is convinced that schools should be re-opened for academic exercise after their closure due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister of State for Education Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba stated this on Thursday 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, 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 school environment and that was why they proposed remodelling of classes.
“We believe the experts that the 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 no enough classrooms for social distancing,
“We can do 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.
The PTF solicited the support of traditional rulers in the prevention of community spread of COVID-19.
The task force said the royal fathers are key to engaging the people to keep safe from the spread of the Mohammed underscored the need for collaboration with the traditional rulers to stop the growing community transmission of the pandemic.
He highlighted the contributions of the royal fathers toward the certification of Nigeria as a polio-free country.
The chairman noted that stopping community transmission is very critical to the complete opening of the economy, especially those in the informal sector, who depends on daily pay for their survival.
He lauded the efforts of the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) on polio eradication and championing the collaboration.
Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire said COVID-19 is one of the most easily transmitted diseases in the world, judging by the speed at which it spread across the world.
He said the PTF has conducted about half a million COVID-19 test out of the two million set target with over 55,000 positive cases and 1,000 fatalities.
He noted that the country has made effort to flatten the curve of fatality but the stage of community spreading is worrisome.
The minister said as the virus is penetrating the community, the support of the traditional institution is key on enlightenment to stop the spread.
The Sultan of Sokoto pledged the commitment of the traditional leaders to prevent community transmission of the pandemic.
“Our motivating factor is based on the serious consideration of health and the well-being of our people.
“The partnership is imperative especially after the successful fight against polio and be rest assured that we will give our total support to this course,” he said.