The Federal Government says it will deploy 60,000 Environmental Health Emergency Volunteer Corps (EHEVC) personnel as the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 prepares to re-open schools across the country.
Dr Mohammad Abubakar, the Minister of Environment made this known while briefing Journalists on Safe post-COVID-19 re-opening of schools on Monday in Abuja.
Abubakar said that the EHEVC would cover primary and secondary schools in all 774 Local Government Areas in the country.
He said that the Federal Government, through the PTF on COVID-19, decided to re-open schools which were closed, since February, as a measure to contain the spread of the disease.
According to him, re-opening of the schools is to be done in strict compliance with the directives of the PTF.
“It will be based on the guidelines for the safe re-opening of schools issued by the federal government under the PTF being a major COVID-19 containment protocol.”
Abubakar said that his ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, had put in place necessary safeguards for safe operation of learning environment.
He recalled that the federal government deployed 40,000 EHEVC personnel in various centres to man environmental health surveillance desks and enforce COVID-19 protocols, issued by PTF, during the West African Senior School Certificate Examination
According to him, the interim reports show that the project was a huge success.
“The EHEVC will be utilised, as was done previously, based on the outcome of their performance in the examination centres’ surveillance.
“The 60,000 EHEVC personnel will be working with other stakeholders, at the sub-national levels, in accordance with the guidelines for the safe re-opening of schools.
“The role of the EHEVC includes participating in developing detailed protocols, establishment and maintenance of prescribed Hygiene Standards and practices including Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) provision.
“Additional measures such as temperature checks and screening, hand hygiene, access to adequate gender-segregated toilet facilities, adequately ventilated classrooms and hostel accommodation, use of face masks, proper food preparation and disposal of waste would also apply.
Abubakar advised Environmental Health Officers (EHO) to set up school environmental health clubs to ensure effective compliance with the COVID-19 guidelines.
He said that the clubs should essentially be run by selected learners to implement directives of each school’s hygiene committee.
The minister also advised school managers to introduce WASH prefectship to ensure proper compliance and daily guidance of learners.
He directed the EHOs working in the States and local government to key into the training of teachers, administrators and other education personnel on safety and hygiene measures.
He said that the EHOs would also play a vital role in the development of information, education and communication materials on WASH within the school premises and classrooms.
According to him, the ministry will monitor compliance with prescribed standards through a network of monitoring and evaluation teams across the country.
He said any institutions found in contravention of the COVID-19 guidelines would be sanctioned.
Abubakar directed environmental health departments, at all levels, to work collaboratively with respective education ministries and departments to achieve success. (NAN)