COVID-19: FG considering reopening schools, NYSC camps

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The Federal Government has indicated that it was considering the reopening of all schools as the nation goes into the next phase of the Coronavirus Disease.

The National Coordinator of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, disclosed this on Thursday during the body’s press briefing.

The briefing came after the PTF submitted its Seventh Report to President Muhammadu Buhari, with the Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, saying all the proposals by the team were approved by the President.

Aliyu, who spoke during a briefing at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja, said the task force recommended phased return of students to classrooms.

He said, “For educational institutions, which include daycare, primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.

“Educational institutions should begin the process of working towards potentially reopening within this phase.

“However, we strongly recommend that states conduct risk assessment to ensure all schools are at a level of compliance and create a monitoring mechanism to assess, create and monitor this level of preparedness.

“Meanwhile, all daycares and educational institutions are to remain closed to in-classes until this level of risk is assessed.

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“And if there will be opening of schools, it must be staged and preferably carried out in phases to ensure that this does not pose a risk to the general public and in particular to vulnerable groups that might end up getting infected by students going back home.”

NYSC camps too

The Federal Government also approved the reopening of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) orientation camps across the country.

Dr Aliyu stated that the NYSC authorities should consolidate on the safety protocols, and reopen orientation camps when the tertiary institutions open.

“We are in the process of developing strict guidelines to ensure there is no outbreak of COVID-19 when this process starts,” he said.

Orientation camps were shut in March this year as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

He also stated that the PTF is making arrangements to see that the private sector is allowed to determine the number of staff that will work, but in a safe environment; while in public service, only level 12 and above will be allowed to work.

Meanwhile, the PTF tenure, which is meant to elapse on September 17, has been extended by President Muhammadu Buhari to December this year.

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This was disclosed by the Chairman of the PTF on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha.

He said that the extension was necessary to sustain the robust multi-sectoral response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The PTF today submitted its 7th Interim Report to Mr President for his consideration and approval.

“The main thrust of the recommendation is that Nigeria advances to the third phase of eased restrictions with further amendments, to address economic, socio-political and health concerns. This will last till a time when the epidemic is sufficiently controlled in Nigeria,” Boss Mustapha stated.

“Accordingly, Mr President has considered and approved the following: Transition into the Third Phase of the National Response to COVID-19 for a period of four weeks with effect from 12.01 am on Friday 4th September 2020 in line with amendments to address economic, socio-political and health considerations reflected in the implementation guidelines.

“Mr. President has similarly considered the fact that the six-month mandate of the PTF will expire this month and has therefore extended it till the end of December 2020.

“The objective is to: Sustain a robust multi-sectoral national response; Ensure that we successfully navigate the community spread stage of the pandemic; strengthen our health system and other socio-economic infrastructures to enable them to meet our national aspirations.

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Mr Mustapha also noted that the PTF is in a haste to reopen schools, especially tertiary institutions.

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