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FG okays phased reopening of schools

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NATIONAL Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Dr SaniAliyu, yesterday said federal government had recommended the phased reopening of schools with the necessary mechanism for assessment and monitoring of compliance with non-pharmaceutical COVID-19 measures by every school.

Aliyu disclosed this at a press briefing held at the international wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja ahead of thereopening of the airspace for international flights.

According to him, the phased reopening of schools is part of the third phase of the eased lockdown which was announced at the briefing.

“For educational institutions, which include day care, 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 that all schools are at a level of compliance and create a monitoring mechanism to assess, create and monitor this level of preparedness. All day cares and educational institutions are to remain closed to in-classes until this level of risk is assessed. 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,” Aliyu said.

He also said Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must enforce no-mask-no-voting policy during elections that would be conducted during the pandemic.

“For INEC, the PTF continues to work closely with INEC. We are pleased that the last elections that were conducted in Nasarawa State, I believe, were successful. We will continue to partner closely with INEC to ensurethat the electoral process does not pose a risk to the spread of COVID-19. INEC will ensure compliance with the publicised policy on conducting safe elections in the context of COVID-19 in particular, the mandatory use of face mask – no-facemask-no-voting, provision of hand sanitizers at polling units, temperature checks at polling units and observation of physical distancing in all electoral activities,” Aliyu continued.

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Under the new eased lockdown phase, the PTF modified the 10pm to 4am curfew to 12am to 4am.

The PTF also increased the number of people allowed to attend gatherings and parties from 20 to 50.

It added that nightclubs and bars remained closed.

The PTF asked the National Youth Service Corps to consolidate on safety measures currently being put in place “in preparation of the reopening orientation camps when educational institutions open.”

It said guidelines were being prepared for the reopening.

Meanwhile, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), All Nigeria Confederation of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPPS) and the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools have expressed satisfaction over the phased reopening of schools by the Federal Government.

But Secretary-General of NUT, Dr Mike Ike-Ene appealed to governments to provide necessary consumables for teachers and financial motivation too.

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