The Federal Government has said it is yet to be convinced that schools should be reopened now for academic activities, six months after they were shut down as a preventive measure to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The Minister of Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, made the disclosure on Thursday in Abuja, at a meeting of the Presidential Tax 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, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, on behalf of the Chairman of PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.
The meeting was held in order to seek the support of the traditional rulers towards preventing community spread of COVID-19.
Nwajiuba, while responding to a question from the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Sa’ad Abubakar, on the reopening of school, 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 the 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 work in progress,” Nwajiuba stated.
The Minister further added that, the government strongly believed in the opinion that 15 percent of the COVID-19 transmission is from the school environment.
“We believe expert opinion 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 remodeled if there are not enough classrooms for social distancing.
“We can do this system where 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 explained.
The Minister said that this system was experimented during the West African Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and the Joint Admission Matriculation Examination (JAMB).
“ 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 added.
It would be recalled that the Federal Government of Nigeria on September 3, 2020, gave State Government and School Administrators approval to start making preparations for the full reopening of schools in the country.
Meanwhile, Lagos, Ogun, Kogi and some other states had subsequently announced the full reopening of schools to commence mid-September.