The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has released new guidelines for the safe reopening of schools to ensure that the impact of COVID-19 virus, especially among pupils, students and school staff, is mitigated.
The guidelines, which can be found on the agency’s website, contains detailed information on what to do and who to inform in the event of an outbreak. It also recommends regular risk assessments and sharing of the medical status of every pupil.
These guidelines include strong recommendations around regular risk assessments; sharing updates of the medical status of every student; a clear communication plan so that when there is an outbreak or a cluster of cases, schools know exactly what to do, who to inform and how to respond; advice on designated hand washing areas; triage of patients; sample collection etc., and the critical questions that every school in Nigeria will be asking.
Director-General of the NCDC Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu stated these on Monday in Abuja, during the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
He said: “Right now, we are focusing on mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on many aspects of our economy. Working together with the Aviation Ministry, we have more or less successfully reopened that industry and now working towards reopening it fully. But there are still some limitations on certain flights.
“The next critical walk of life that we have been working on is education. We are working closely with the Ministry of Education and states. We understand the implication of education to our national development and have continued to carry the country along in all our plans to ensure we bring a safe reopening of schools.
“Our aim has been and remains to halt the spread of this disease in Nigeria, while ensuring that sectors recover quickly and we can move forward as a country. Therefore, the PTF has ensured the safe and gradual reopening of various sectors continues, including the education sector.
“As Nigeria’s national public health institution, we are aware of our responsibilities and have continued to provide guidelines in line with global best practice to ensure Nigerians are safe and can adapt to the new normal.
“Reopening of schools will unquestionably bring benefits to students who have been at home for many months and to the wider economy. In the past few months, we have been working with the Ministry of Education, schools and states and many other stakeholders, critically parents, to ensure that the reopening of schools is as safe as possible for children.
“I want to reassure Nigerians that as schools reopen in various states, the safety of our children and school staff stands as a priority to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
Ihekweazu added: “This virus behaves differently from most other viruses that we know where transmission has always been primarily driven by children. But now, we are better informed and have continued to adapt our guidelines as new knowledge emerges.
“Drawing from what we now know in our country, we have worked with the Federal Ministry of Education to develop new guidelines for the safe reopening of schools across the country. We have put this in a very simple format so every school can pick this up across the country and adapt to its own uses.”