By Dipo Olowookere
Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has approved the reopening of cinemas and gyms in the state after they were shut down about six months ago.
The facilities were closed as part of efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus in the metropolis and the country at large.
During his regular media briefing on Saturday, Mr Sanwo-Olu noted that cinemas and gyms would for now be allowed to operate with a maximum of 33 per cent occupancy, stressing that there must be a minimum of two empty seats between occupied seats in the cinemas.
He emphasised that operators of gyms in the state must constantly disinfect their machines and equipment throughout the day, warning that failure to adhere to this instruction would have consequences.
However, he said night-clubs, bars, event centres, spas and public parks will remain closed for now, noting that the state government would take definite decisions on the reopening next month.
The Governor further announced that mosques in the state are permitted to observe daily prayers, while churches can start mid-week services.
“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,” he said.
However, Mr Sanwo-Olu warned that, “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.”
On the reopening of schools, he said permission has been granted for the re-opening of basic and secondary schools, stressing that only pupils in Junior Secondary School Three (JSS 3) and Senior Secondary School Two (SSS 2) are allowed to resume for physical classes in public schools.
He explained that public schools’ resumption would allow the JSS 3 pupils to revise and prepare for Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) slated for October 12, 2020, while students in SSS 2 will use the period to prepare for their transitional exams to SSS 3.
Unlike the resumption schedule for the public schools, the Governor permitted all levels of class in private schools to resume, but with strong advice to private school owners to consider implementing a staggered daily resumption schedule and classes on alternate days during the week.
But he emphasised that all pre-primary school classes, including nursery, day-care centres and kindergarten, in both public and private schools are not permitted to open.
“It has become necessary to issue clarifications regarding the resumption of schools, in order to clear any confusion that may have arisen since the resumption date was announced.
“Public Schools will adopt a phased protocol for the resumption of physical classes. Students in JSS 3 and SSS 2 in public schools in Lagos are to resume physical classes from September 21.
“In the same vein, all private primary and secondary schools are permitted to resume from 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.
“School owners and managers are advised to seriously consider implementing a staggered daily resumption schedule, classes on alternate days during the week, and utilization of distance learning methods as a complement to physical classes.
“All pre-primary – nursery, day-care and kindergarten – classes and schools in both public and private schools must remain closed,” the Governor announced yesterday.
The Governor said all re-opened schools must comply with safety protocols and hygiene guidelines as instructed by the State Government through the Office of Education Quality Assurance (OEQA). He said the department would monitor and evaluate Schools’ preparedness.
“For all other public school classes in primary school and JSS 1, JSS 2, and SSS 1, announcements for resumption will be made as soon as the 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,” he said.
From next week, Sanwo-Olu said all primary and secondary schools in the state that have more than two-storey structures will be subjected to integrity test to ensure the safety of pupils.
The Governor spoke against the backdrop of the Saturday collapse of Excel Secondary School, a private school in Ejigbo area of the state.
The school, Mr Sanwo-Olu observed, flouted the state’s structural regulations, resulting in its collapse and directed the complete demolition of the failed structure, while directing the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development to embark on integrity test on all schools’ structures.
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