From Frank Ikpefan, Abuja
Vice Chancellors of universities were told on Tuesday to conclude arrangements for the immediate and full reopening, following the decline in COVID-19 infection rates.
The National Universities Commission (NUC), which issued the directive, said the Federal Ministry of Education has accepted its request for varsities to get set for immediate resumption of academic activities.
The Director, Directorate of the Executive Secretary’s Office, Chris Maiyaki, conveyed the directive to the vice chancellors in a memo on behalf of NUC Executive Secretary Abubakar Rasheed.
Copies of the memo titled: “Fresh directives for the safe re-opening of universities for academic activities during the Covid-19 pandemic”, were sent to Education Minister Mallam Adamu Adamu, Minister of State for Education Emeka Nwajiuba and Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono.
According to the commission, since the curve of coronavirus infections was declining, it is safe for reopening formalities to commence.
The Federal Government ordered the closure of schools for a period of one month after the declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in March.
It, however, announced an indefinite closure in May, following the spread of Coronavirus infections across states and the Federal Capital City (FCT).
In the memo, NUC stated that varsities can now conclude their resumption arrangements as long as they are in line with Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) guidelines and other existing NUC assurance and guidelines.
The memo reads: “Following the recent press briefing by the Presidential Task Force Team on COVID-19, to the effect that significant deadline in the reproduction number (R-value) for COVID-19 has been recorded in the country, the Federal Ministry of Education has accepted the request of the NUC to firm up arrangement towards the immediate resumption of academic activities.”
The commission said it would visit the universities from time to time in company of officials from the Federal Ministry of Education to conduct an on-the-spot assessment of physical facilities like lecture theatres, accommodation, healthcare facilities.
It stated: “Universities must continue to adhere to the safety protocols and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) guidelines which are very much in force. The decision to re-open institutions should not, in any way, diminish the importance attached to full compliance.
“The virus is still potent and there is no cure as at yet; universities must under no circumstances, violate the full cycle of the semester system, consistent with the National Universities Commission (NUC) approved Benchmark Minimum Academic Standard (BMAS); Universities are to ensure strict compliance with other extent NUC quality assurance standards and guidelines;
“A joint inspection team comprising staff of the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the Federal Ministry of Education (FME) will be undertaking verification visits to inspect the reopened universities and their level of compliance with the quality assurance/safety standards.”
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