Liberian authorities have delayed by two weeks the reopening of schools closed since July last year due to the Ebola outbreak.
The government announced in January the schools would reopen Monday, February 2, but Anthony Nimely, Deputy Minister of Education for Administration, Research and Development, said the government decided to postpone the reopening to February 16 to give parents enough time to register their children.
“Schools are not going to open on Monday. Rather, we have allowed registration to continue up to the 13th of February because the turnout in the number of children that are registering is low. And so, that has been considered and registration is extended to the 13th of February, meaning that schools are not going to open on the 2nd of February, as initially planned,” he said.
The delay affects grade school students. Nimely said he was not certain if universities would also reopen on the same day. He said the National Commission on Higher Education will decide on the timing of the reopening of universities.
The announcement came after a number of Liberian lawmakers called for a delay in reopening of schools because they said the education ministry had not delivered Ebola prevention equipment, such as temperature check devices, hand pumps and sanitary accessories, to all provinces.
Nimely admits the government experienced delays in the delivery of most of the Ebola prevention protocols instituted by the ministries of education and health to some rural communities.
But he said the government wants to make sure Ebola-related safety protocols are put in place in all provinces before classes resume.
“In the same vein, while the registration protocol is being extended, part of the opening protocol is to ensure that the school environments are safe. So, all of the hand washing stations, the temperature checking devices to create that safe school environment, the distribution is now ongoing,” Nimely said.
Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone were the three West African countries hit hardest by the Ebola epidemic which killed about 9,000 people in all. Guinea reopened schools last month. Sierra Leone is scheduled to reopen schools in March.