Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi has announced September 21 date for reopening of primary and secondary schools in the state, ending months of school closure occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fayemi who disclosed this in a state-wide broadcast on Sunday evening also directed that tertiary institutions in the state be opened to students from October 2, subject to each institution’s Governing Council decision and strict adherence to safety protocols to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The governor stressed that the authorities of the tertiary institutions are to liaise with the Ekiti COVID-19 Task Force for guidance on the appropriate measures to be put in place before reopening.
Specifically, the Governor said students in SSS II, JSS III and Primary 6 are to resume on September 21, while students in SSS I, JSS II, Primary 5 and 4 are to resume from September 28.
Students in JSS I and Primary 1-3 are to resume on October 19, while pupils in Kindergarten and Nursery schools are expected to resume on November 2, when more assurances of safety for their age bracket would have been established.
The governor noted that the decision to open more classes was taken because there has been no spike traceable to students in exit classes who are writing their certificate examinations saying: “This shows that our preventive measures to safeguard them from being infected has been effective.”
On worship centres, Dr Fayemi disclosed that they can henceforth hold two services on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays while midweek services and night vigils are still prohibited.
He said: “After a careful review and advice by the experts, I am glad to announce that worship centres can now hold two services on Friday, Saturday or Sunday as the case may be but mid-week activities and night vigils remain suspended for now. Other protocols and regulations concerning worship centres reopening still subsist.”
Reprieve also came for residents of the state on social activities especially the ones taking place in halls and event centres with owners of such facilities now mandated to rent them to users on condition that they should not contain more than 50 per cent of their normal capacities.
“Owners of halls and event centres may now be allowed to rent out their facilities but under no condition should such a facility contain more than 50 per cent of its normal capacity.
“This is to allow for social distancing. Events centres are expected to observe all protocols prescribed for religious centres and to obtain certificate of readiness before opening,” he said.
Fayemi, however, expressed concern on flouting of social distancing rules and non-use of face masks, saying enforcement will also be scaled up to ensure compliance with COVID-19 regulations.
The governor added: “While we have progressively responded to the initial lockdown with gradual relaxation in line with the progress made, we must remain vigilant as we cannot afford to indulge ourselves such that a spike may recur as a result of flagrant disobedience to the established protocol.
“We cannot afford to go back into another round of lockdown with its attendant repercussions. This point needs to be emphasized; though, there is a national decline in number of cases, there has been a noticeable upsurge in Ekiti.
“One proof of this is the unpleasant but consistent figures that we have recorded in the last month. As at the time I addressed you on August 5, 2020, there were only 152 confirmed cases in Ekiti.
“Today we have recorded a total of 299 cases which means we recorded 147 new cases within a month. You would recall that the total recorded cases from March to August were 152. This suggests that from August to date, we have had near 100 percent new cases, even while national number has maintained a stable decline.
“It is in view of this, that I have issued a new directive to the law enforcement agencies to ramp up their enforcement activities. We should not delude ourselves that we are out of the pandemic until there is a reliable vaccine in place.
“Even as we continue to evaluate situations and act promptly, I urge you to take personal measures and responsibility by adhering to all existing protocols, as not doing so, could jeopardize our collective wellbeing.”
Speaking on empowerment, the governor said his administration was doing everything possible to support entrepreneurs, artisans and self employed residents.
He disclosed that over 200 businesses accessed the COVID loans from CBN through the Microfinance and Enterprise Development Agency (MEDA) , while Ekiti residents should expect to benefit from the multiple initiatives from the Federal Government to support the economy, including the recently launched COVID Survival Fund.
He thanked the state’s medical and health workers in the front line and the COVID-19 Response Resource Mobilisation Team as well as all donors to the COVID-19 Support Fund.
The governor urged residents to keep safe in all fronts especially with more rains coming, adding that, “we must not only keep safe in terms of COVID-19 prevention, we must also ensure that the drainages are kept free to forestall flooding, just as our drivers must keep safe to avoid accidents in these last quarter as we move towards the end of the year.”