After reviewing concerns raised by parents of students in boarding schools preparing for this year’s West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) in Ogun State, the Government has approved free COVID-19 tests for students in state-owned boarding schools.
The Government has also negotiated with some healthcare service providers to ensure students in private schools undergo the test at a discounted cost in the state.
Announcing the new development, Special Adviser to the Governor on Basic and Secondary Education, Ronke Soyombo, through a statement made available to The Guild on Sunday, stated that the decision was reached to flatten COVID-19 curve in the state.
Soyombo noted that the test and other guidelines set were jointly developed and agreed by parents, private school owners, government representatives, and other stakeholders to avoid COVID-19 community transmission among students especially those in boarding facilities and that it was the reason for additional requirements.
According to her, Ogun state is arguably the state with the highest number of public and private schools operating boarding facilities in the country with students’ populations drawn from far and wide.
Considering this, she hinted that the government has commenced distribution of facemasks to private and public schools for returning SS3 students and their teachers, saying, all these were to curb the virus spread.
While assuring that the government will not shirk in its responsibility of protecting all citizens and residents of Ogun state, Soyombo emphasized that no student would be allowed into the boarding school facilities without been certified as COVID-19 free.
“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 on the cost of COVID-19 tests with some healthcare service providers but 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”, she added.