Reopening: FG Mandates Schools To Conduct Weekly COVID-19 Risk Assessment
As the nation prepares for the reopening of schools, the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, has mandated schools to carry out weekly risk assessments while states and local governments are to conduct monthly and quarterly risk assessments.
Mrs Elsie Ilori, Head, Department of Surveillance and Epidemiology, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, announced this on Thursday in Abuja at the joint PTF briefing on COVID-19.
Schools across the country have been fully shut since March as part of measures to check the spread of COVID-19.
However, Senior Secondary School 3 students resumed on August 17 to write the West African Senior School Examinations.
Subsequently, Federal Government instructed state governments and school administrators to prepare full reopening of schools in the country.
Giving guidelines for reopening, Ilori stated that weekly COVID-19 risk assessments must be carried out as the PTF continues to educate the public on measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
We have also continued to review the situation in other countries that have re-opened schools. We also receive guidance from WHO and other public health authorities.
If schools carefully coordinate, plan and put the required safety measures in place before reopening, there is lesser risk of COVID-19 cases in school settings.
Ilori stressed that;
We are working closely with the Federal Ministry of Education, PTF-COVID-19, States and our partners to ensure that the required safety measures are in place to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on our schools.
PTF-COVID-19 and Federal Ministry of Education have mandated schools to conduct periodic (weekly) risk assessments, while states and local governments are to conduct monthly and quarterly risk assessment respectively.
According to head of the department;
This will help to promptly address the gaps that may exist in reducing the risk of COVID-19 spread in schools.
Beyond this, local governments have been advised to set up multi-sectoral school health committees dedicated to supporting and monitoring the implementation of safety protocols in the schools.
Ilori further stated that safe school reopening required the collective efforts of all, including parents, teachers, school authorities, communities, civil society organisations and the media.
The government cannot do it alone. We must all work together. The PTF advised school managements against conducting tests for returning students. The focus should be on monitoring and careful observation of students with all non-pharmaceutical measures in place.