The Governor Dapo Abiodun-led Ogun State Government has clarified the requirements for operations of boarding facilities in the secondary schools in the state as part of the overall requirements for the reopening of schools for SS3 students on August 4 as earlier announced by the government.
Abiodun, in a statement in Abeokuta on Sunday by his Special Adviser on Basic and Secondary Education, Ronke Soyombo, said the clarification has become necessary to remind the general public, particularly parents and operators in the education sector, of government position, which is based on the guidelines jointly developed and agreed by parents, private school owners, government representatives and other stakeholders.
The statement said: “Ogun State is arguably the state with the highest number of schools (public and private) operating boarding facilities in the country with students’ population drawn from far and wide.
“In view of this and the need to avoid community transmission of the COVID-19 pandemic amongst our children in the boarding facilities and invariably the state as a whole, additional requirements for opening of boarding facilities in all the secondary schools in the State were agreed.
“A key additional requirement is presentation of certificate of negative COVID-19 test before a student is admitted to the boarding facility in both public and private schools in the state.”
However, the statement identified the following implementation details that should be noted.
“The government will bear the full costs of the COVID-19 Test for all the boarding SS3 students in the state-owned public schools.
“All private school owners are also expected to ensure that all their boarding students are certified COVID-19 test negative before being admitted into their boarding facilities.
“To further assist the private schools, Ogun State Government has negotiated a huge discount in the cost of COVID-19 Test with some healthcare service providers.
“However, private school owners and parents are free to engage any other service provider of their choice provided that the service provider is certified by NCDC as COVID-19 Test service provider.
“Indeed, certificate of negative COVID-19 test from other locations across the country will be tenable provided, as usual, it is from an NCDC certified centre and the test has been performed within 72 hours of the date of resumption.
“Only boarding facilities directly operated by schools will be allowed to operate to enable government monitoring of such facilities for compliance with COVID-19 protocols.
“Parents and school owners are enjoined to work together to ensure that health and safety of our students is of paramount consideration at all times. Should any private school owner and parents desire a waiver of COVID-19 test requirement for boarding students, a joint representation of the school owner and the parents should be made to the government and this shall be considered on a case-by-case basis,” the statement said.
Soyombo emphasised that the COVID-19 test for boarding students is just one of the measures jointly developed and agreed with the parents, school owners, health experts and relevant government agencies and warned that government would not shirk in its responsibility of protecting all citizens and residents of Ogun State.
“And these include students in our public and private schools. Amongst other such initiatives, government has commenced distribution of facemasks to all the schools in Ogun State – public and private – for the use of returning SS3 students and their teachers,” the statement noted.