Health

NCDC Gives Public Health Guidance for Safe School Re-opening in Nigeria

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), in consultation with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF-COVID-19) and the Federal Ministry of Education (FME), has developed a guide to support states and schools to adequately prepare for safe re-opening of schools, and control the risk of coronavirus infection.

This is contained in a document published by the body, which read:

“States should conduct risk assessments to guide decisions and interventions for re-opening. The risk assessment should be conducted weekly by schools, monthly by LGAs and quarterly by states”.

States should establish or re-establish a multi-sectoral school health programme that includes a trained school health team to ensure adherence to all protocols. Schools should;

  1. Schools should provide learners with a “medical status” form to be completed by all parents and kept in confidence by the school head;
  2. Ensure that a triage point is identified and well-marked at the entrance where everyone gaining access to the school is screened for high temperature, requested to wear masks and perform hand hygiene;
  3. Ensure that classrooms are well ventilated with a minimum of one-metre sitting arrangement;
  4. Ensure that all staff, visitors and students above 6 years wear face masks at all times. All schools must identify a section that can serve as a sample collection site
  5. All schools must ensure that there is sufficient access to running water, soap and hand washing facilities; Vii. Staff at sickbay should be trained and provided with required PPE;
    6.Schools should ensure that waste from the sickbay and used face masks are separated from general waste and safely disposed of;
  6. Ensure that holding/sick bays can be used to manage asymptomatic cases for boarding students and that for day students, a response protocol is in place to transmit students who are ill or test positive to the nearest designated hospital facility;
  7. All schools must have a communications plan to inform parents, in the event of a COVID-19 confirmed case;
  8. State Ministries of Health should ensure that all schools are in close communication with the Local Government Rapid Response Team, State Epidemiologist and other health officials at all times. These groups should collaborate on school-related response activities.”

In addition, the document further includes that;

• FME has developed templates incorporating NCDC protocols and tools for prevention, detection, reporting, sample collection and treatment. This should be adopted by all states.

• A detailed and well-followed protocol for communication must be established by the state and disseminated to schools, to include parents, staff, the school health team and authorities at the school, parents, LGA, state and national level. This is to ensure regular updates or any change in policy/procedure are effectively disseminated and communicated appropriately.

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Festus Ezeifedi Chukwuemeka

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