COVID-19: FG okays resumption of academic activities by universities

The National Universities Commission (NUC) has issued fresh directives to universities to gear up for safe reopening of universities’ academic activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is following the recent briefing by the Presidential Task Force Team on COVID-19 to the effect that significant decline in the reproduction number (R value) for COVID-19 has been recorded in the country.

NUC had conveyed the directive of the Federal Ministry of Education (FME) for the closure of Higher Education institutions for a period of one month, effective from Monday, 23 March, 2020 and subsequently, two joining circulars reaffirmed the earlier decision for institutions to remain closed till further notice.

A letter from the Office of the Executive Secretary, signed by the Director, Directorate of the Executive Secretary’s Office, Chris J. Maiyaki, dated 18th September, 2020 and addressed to all Vice Chancellors, said the FME had accepted the request of the NUC for universities to firm up arrangements towards the immediate resumption of academic activities.

According to the letter, the resumption is subject to the following: “Universities must continue to adhere to the safety protocols and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) guidelines which are very much in force.”

It said the decision to re-open institutions should not, in any way, diminish the importance attached to full compliance as the virus was still potent.

“Universities must under no circumstances, violate the full cycle of the semester system, consistent with the NUC approved Benchmark Minimum Academic Standards (BMAS);

“Universities are to also ensure strict compliance with other extant NUUC quality assurance standards and guidelines.”

The letter said a joint inspection team comprising staff of the NUC and the FME will be undertaking verification visits to inspect the reopened universities and their level of compliance with Quality Assurance/Safety standards.

“The impending visits will involve on-the-spot inspection of physical facilities such as lecture theatres, classrooms, staff offices, laboratories, students accommodation, emergency services/capability, healthcare and the deployment of non-pharmaceutical measures which are germane to your state of preparedness for the resumption of academic activities,” the letter reads.

Also, the universities will periodically keep the NUC updated on actions taken, in conformity with this directive.

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