Protest Rocks Ogun Health Facility Over N25,000 COVID - 19 Test - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE

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Sunday, August 2, 2020

Protest Rocks Ogun Health Facility Over N25,000 COVID - 19 Test

- As Governor Abiodun Demands Certificate Of Negative COVID - 19 Test From Boarding Students

                     •Abiodun
Parents of children attending private schools in Ogun state on Sunday poured into the state MTR Specialist Hospital in Okemosan, Abeokuta, protesting government's decision to demand  N25, 000 from each students before testing them for COVID-19 ahead of their resumption on Tuesday,  August 4.

The protest followed the State Government's  requirements of negative COVID - test from returning boarding students as part of the overall requirements for the reopeningof schools for SS3 students on 4th August, 2020 as earlierannounced by the Government.

In a release issued in Abeokuta on Sunday, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Basic and Secondary Education, Mrs 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.

According to the statement, 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 continued, the following implementation details should be noted;

• The government will bear the full costs of the COVID-19 Test for all the boarding SS3 students in the State-ownedpublic 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.  

Mrs 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 will 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 concluded.

Meanwhile, parents of children attending private schools in Ogun state on Sunday poured into the state MTR Specialist Hospital in Okemosan, Abeokuta, protesting government's decision to demand  N25, 000 from each students before testing them for COVID-19 ahead of their resumption on Tuesday,  August 4.

The angry parents who besieged the facility, shut the gate and barred both entry and exit, insisting their wards should be tested free of cost 

They also wondered why government should impose any levy on students of private schools while their counterparts in public schools were tested free, saying the test shouldn't be compulsory for students since the state government had instructed all schools to make adequate provisions for testing of their students before they resume in their respective schools.

The Vice Chairman, Parent Teachers Association (PTA) of one of the private schools in state, Dr. Kehinde Sanwo, described government's decision as discriminatory whe all children should be seen as belonging to the state and should be treated equally. 

"The parents here are good citizens of Ogun state which we are tax payers. And it is so disheartening that we are here at the MTR hospital the venue for covid-19 test. 

"When we arrived we are told pay N25,000. Whereas, some people who arrived earlier paid nothing. So, we don't know where the decision came from. Some of us have more than two children. Why these segregation?," she queried. 

However,  Director of Public Health, Dr. Olukayode Soyinka, said he was not aware of the N25,000 covid-19 test Levy on private schools students. 

Soyinka said the hitherto, had been done free, stressing that he was just instructed by the state commissioner for health, Dr. Tomi Coker to make himself available at the venue to provide conducive environment for the students. 

He however disclosed that, the test was organized by the state government in conjunction with a private laboratory company, 54gene under the Public Private Partnership arrangement. 

One of the officials of 54gene declined comments on the ground that he lacked power to speak to the media. 

He however explained that, his company's activities at the testing ground had the approval of the state government.


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