By Olasunkanmi Akoni
As Lagos recorded a decline in cases of COVID-19, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Saturday, ordered that pre-primary schools in the state are to remain closed, just as other private and public primary schools are to reopen in phases, commencing from Monday, September 21.
For places of worship, mosques will resume their five times daily prayers, while churches are permitted to resume their mid-week services.
Cinemas and gyms are also permitted to reopen as soon as possible, with a maximum of 33 percent occupancy.
Sanwo-Olu made these announcements while briefing the media on COVID-19 situation report in Lagos, at the Lagos House, Marina.
According to Sanwo-Olu, “It has become necessary to issue clarifications regarding the resumption of schools, to clear any confusion.
“It is important for all parents, guardians and stakeholders to note that there are different resumption schedules for public and private schools in Lagos State.
“Public schools will adopt a phased protocol for the resumption of physical classes as follows: students in JSS 3 and SS 2 in public schools are to resume physical classes from Monday, September 21.
“This resumption will allow the JSS 3 students to adequately revise and prepare for their forthcoming Basic Education Certificate Examination, BECE, organised by the Lagos State Examination Board, and scheduled for Tuesday, October 6, until Monday, October 12, 2020.
“The resumption will also afford the present SS 2 students an opportunity to prepare effectively for their transition to SS 3.
“The scheduled dates and venues for entrance examination into Lagos State Model Colleges will be announced in due course by the Lagos State Examination Board.
“For all other public-school classes— all primary school classes, and JSS 1, JSS 2, and SS 1— announcements for resumption will be made as soon as the Lagos State Government is satisfied that all necessary resumption protocols have been put in place.
“In the meantime, these yet-to-resume classes in public schools are expected to continue their lessons on our various distance learning platforms (online, radio, television and WhatsApp) pending the announcement of dates for physical resumption.
“To recap, only JS 3 and SS 2 students of public schools in Lagos State are to resume on Monday September 21, as WASC examinations ended on September 12, 2020.
“For private schools in Lagos State, all private primary and secondary schools are permitted to resume from Monday, September 21.
“We have strongly advised school owners and managers to put safety first and open in phases similar to the announced schedule for public schools.
“We have also advised private primary and secondary school owners and managers to seriously consider implementing a staggered daily resumption schedule, classes on alternate days during the week, and utilisation of distance learning methods as a complement to physical classes.
“All private primary and secondary schools are also expected to comply with safety protocols and hygiene guidelines as instructed by the State Government through the Office of Education Quality Assurance, OEQA.
“If, however, any teacher or school head notices any pupil is ill, he or she should isolate such a pupil in a safe and secured room, pending when the appropriate health authorities are contacted.
“At this point it is very important to clarify that ALL pre-primary— nursery, daycare centres and kindergarten— classes and schools in both public and private schools will remain closed until further announcements are made by the Lagos State Government.
“All pupils of pre-primary schools in Lagos State must, therefore, remain at home until further notice, and continue to receive their lessons by virtual means.”
Reopens cinemas, gyms
On recreation venues, Sanwo-Olu said: “Henceforth, cinemas and gyms are permitted to reopen as soon as possible, with a maximum of 33 percent occupancy, which means that there must be a minimum of 20 empty seats between occupied seats;
“And in the case of gyms, there must be constant disinfection of machines and equipment throughout the course of the day.
“Next month, October, we will announce the decisions regarding the reopening of other sectors of the economy: night-clubs, bars, event centres, spas, public parks and so on.
“For now, these will continue to remain closed, until fixed plans for reopening are announced in October.”
Sanwo-Olu continued: “As regards our places of worship, we are now also permitting the mosques to resume their five times daily prayers; and in the case of churches, they are now also permitted to resume their mid-week services.
“We must not forget that the Coronavirus pandemic is still very much with us, and we must therefore strive to prioritise the safety of all our children, teachers, parents, and the entire society.
“All of these resumption guidelines and protocols must be strictly adhered to by the various stakeholders.
“Let me make it clear that if we do not continue to maintain our guard, and sustain the adherence to all required protocols and guidelines, we will find ourselves in a situation where fresh lockdowns are inevitable.
“The only way to avoid this is to continue to act responsibly: maintain the required levels of hygiene, through regular hand-washing and use of sanitisers, wear masks in all public places, avoid non-essential public gatherings, and maintain the prescribed levels of physical distancing at all times.”