The schools in Ebola hit Liberia reopened from Monday. Fears over the spread of Ebola had kept Liberian schools closed since the July-August holidays. The school term began a day after the leaders of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, vowed at a summit in Guinea to eradicate the virus by mid-April.
The attendance at the state schools was low and most private schools in Monrovia have decided to wait another two weeks to open. The United Nations' agency for children (UNICEF) spokeswoman in Monrovia said, "It is too early to be able to have a clear overview of how many schools had opened across Liberia. Typically it can take up to a month before the majority of students are back in the classroom."
The UN agency has been working closely with the Liberian government and local communities to develop the safety protocols already employed in Guinea. Teachers have been trained to implement and monitor the safety measures, while soap and other hygiene materials have been distributed and mass mobilization campaigns on Ebola prevention have been conducted nationwide. UNICEF and its partners are distributing more than 7,200 hygiene kits for over 4,000 Liberian schools, and training 15,000 teachers and school administrators in monitoring of safety protocols. They reported that pupils were washing their hands before entering schools and were having their temperatures checked.
UNICEF has been at the forefront of introducing safety measures to combat the spread of the Ebola virus, which has claimed more than 9,000 lives across Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Liberia, which has recorded the most deaths and was hardest hit at the height of the epidemic, is leading the recovery, reporting just three new confirmed cases in the last week.
Sierra Leone plans to reopen its schools at the end of March.