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South-west States in the Lead As FG Announces Reopening Schools

The Federal Government has approved full re-opening of schools across the country as south-west states beat others to announce resumption dates in the country.

In March this year, the Federal Government shutdown all schools across the country in order to curb the spread of COVID-19 amongst students.

The Commissioner of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, while speaking at the 60th press briefing, stated that no date has been fixed yet for full resumption for schools. Nwajiuba, however, expressed optimism that the date for resumption was around the corner.

However, the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force, Dr Sani Aliyu during a briefing at the International Airport Abuja recommended a phased return of students to classrooms.

Aliyu said all daycares and educational institutions should be closed to in-classes until the level of risk has been assessed.

Prior to this announcement, two south-west States had already taken the lead to announce the reopening of schools.

Lagos, the epicentre of COVID-19 in Nigeria, was the first to announce the reopening of schools. At a COVID-19 press briefing held on Saturday the 29th of August, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu took the lead by asking tertiary institutions in the state to reopen by September 14th.

Sanwo-Olu also announced that primary and secondary schools will resume, tentatively, by the 21st of September.

Following Lagos’ steps, Osun State followed suit to announce September 21st as its resumption date. The State Commissioner for Information, Mrs Funke Egbemode in a statement on Tuesday announced 21st of September as its tentative resumption date.

At the end of a virtual meeting held by the Development Agenda For Western Nigeria (DAWN), Special Adviser to the State Governor on Education, Mr Jamiu Olawumi, said that schools cannot be closed forever.

At the last meeting of the South-Western Governors, they agreed that schools should be reopened for SS3 students to write their exit exams, particularly the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE), with the Governors promising to enforce COVID-19 guidelines and protocols across the six South-West States, vigorously.

However, Lagos and Osun state governors appear to have beat all other Governors to the punch by announcing the resumption of tertiary, primary and secondary institutions in the state.

Since the approval for full resumption by the Federal Government, with two south-west states reopening it is glaring that the other four south-Western states will announce their resumption dates anytime soon.

Despite being without a Commissioner For Education, chances are that Ogun state will be the next south-west state to follow in announcing resumption dates. The Special Adviser to the State Government on Public Communication, Remmy Hassan, said during an interview with Punch that the State will await Federal Government’s order before re-opening schools.

Ekiti State may be next in line as the State Commissioner For Science and Technology, Mr Foluso Daramola, at a meeting of the State Universal Basic Education Board management held with headteachers of Public Primary and Secondary Schools in Ado-Ekiti, said plans are already underway in the state to appoint and train focal persons in all schools to ensure compliance with the COVID-19 protocols when schools resume.

Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State may be joining the team of Governors in South West and other states across the country to re-open schools next, followed by Ondo state

Out of the total COVID-19 cases in Nigeria as at September 3rd, Lagos State which approved September 14 for resumption, currently has the highest number of cases in the country with a total of 18,347.

Oyo State is the third-highest state in Nigeria with COVID-19, with a total of 3,194 recorded cases. Ogun State is at number 10 with 1,678 cases. Ondo is at 11th position with 1,561 while Osun is at number 17 with a total of 795 cases and Ekiti at 27th position with 283 cases.

However, with the re-opening consideration for schools, it is possible that the COVID-19 figures in the country might increase rapidly.

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