The Way Forward on Re-Opening of Schools Amidst the Prevalence of the Novel Corona Virus Disease (Covid-19) Infections in Nigeria

On the 24th of June 2020, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) through its Education Committee convened a virtual joint meeting of NLC affiliate unions in the education sector. The meeting was to brainstorm on measures to be put in place before schools in Nigeria could re-open given the prevalence of the novel corona virus disease (Covid-19) pandemic. Our affiliate unions in the education sector which concerns were addressed at the meeting include the following:

  1. Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU);
  2. Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU);
  3. Senior Staff Association of Polytechnics (SSANIP);
  4. Senior Staff Union of in Colleges of Education, Nigeria (SSUCOEN);
  5. National Association of Academic Technologist (NAAT);
  6. Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT);
  7. Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU);
  8. Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU); and
  9. Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP).

After due deliberations and considerations, the meeting raised the following concerns and proffered a number of recommendations:


  1. The meeting noted with concern the social and economic implications of the outbreak of novel Coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) all over the world which has impaired human activities due to the lockdown measures, which also precipitated the closure of schools;
  • Recognized that the unions in the education sector in Nigeria have a formidable voice to guide Congress’ positions on the re-opening of schools by the Federal and State Governments especially in the aftermath of the phased easing of lockdown and restrictions measures by the federal and state governments; and
  • The meeting was perturbed by the increasing incidences of the Covid-19 infection across the Country, and the dearth of educational infrastructures in Nigeria’s institutions of learning, which is capable of undermining the physical distance protocol of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). The meeting observed that some conscious measures need to be mapped and put in place before the re-opening schools in the country.


  1. Congress is of the view that adequate infrastructure needs to be provided in schools to ensure effective enforcement of the NCDC protocols and guidelines on Covid-19; 
  2. Re-opening of schools need to be done with due diligence and utmost precaution given the overcrowded nature of schools at the both primary, secondary and tertiary levels;
  3. Government should bring all stakeholders in the primary and secondary education sub-sector comprising unions, Parent Teachers Association (PTA), Committee of Vice-Chancellors/Provosts of Polytechnics and Colleges of Educations, All Nigeria Confederation of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS) to deliberate on the way forward on the need to re-open schools;
  4. There is need to create a post Covid-19 re-opening plans and strategies based on the NCDC protocol and guidelines;
  5. There is need to re-adjust the Nigerian federal budget for education and implement measures to assist institutions with financial burden of managing Covid-19;
  6. There is need to train the staff of health centres in universities, polytechnics, colleges of education, secondary and primary schools, both teaching and non-teaching staff, on handling of pupils and students;
  7. It is important to adopt phased/structured education activities, adjust exams and lecture/teaching time;
  8. There is need for National Safe School policies to assist educational institutions to conduct risk assessment audit of schools in the country;
  9. There is need to revisit the outsourcing policy of security personnel and cleaners, especially in institutions of higher learning to enable the institutions to have full control of the security personnel and cleaners, as private cleaners and security personnel cannot guarantee the health and safety of staff and students;
  10. There is need to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health workers and other essential workers for their safety and protection;
  11. We call for the immediate releases of intervention funds to all institutions to enable them provide needed safety measures;
  12.  Apparently, there is need for expansion of class rooms to ensure observance of the social distancing protocol;
  13.  There is need to address the lingering industrial crisis in the higher institutions posed by the IPPIS, which has the potential of affecting any attempt at re-opening of schools;
  14.  There is need for an elaborate plan to determine the duration of classes, and sitting arrangements to avoid infection;
  15.  There is need to ensure general decontamination/fumigation of entire premises and buildings, including student’s hostels, classrooms, staff offices, business premises, lecture halls/theatre, health centres/clinics etc.;
  16. Additional employment of teachers to enable effective teacher student ration based on the social distancing protocol;
  17. Provision of out-door learning environment for kids;
  18. Strengthening e-learning facilities in primary, and tertiary institutions through provision of customized electronic devices to all staff and students. This is in order to complement traditional class settings and achieve physical distancing; and
  19.  Provision of free internet bandwidth in all institutions to be deployed free to members of staff and students within and around the school premises.

On the part of both public and private institutions of learning, the Congress is making the following recommendations for their observation upon re-opening of all schools. They are advised to:

  1. Put in place Covid-19 committee which will be charged with the responsibilities of ensuring strict compliance with the safety measures and enforcement of  regular hand washing with water and soap, hand sanitizers and, at a minimum, daily disinfection and cleaning of school surfaces and compulsory use of face masks by staff, students and visitors;
  • Provide adequate water, sanitation and hygiene facilities such as wash hand basins, soap and hand sanitizers;
  • Cleaning of all surfaces, at least once a day, particularly surfaces and facilities that are used by students; and
  • Put in place, a transparent post-Covid-19 plans, including isolation of staff and student who manifest the symptoms of the disease or who have tested positive, without creating stigma around them.

Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni

President, Nigeria Labour Congress