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Liberian Schools to Reopen After Ebola Shut Down

Students who can no longer attend schools and universities because the government temporarily closed them due to Ebola, take to the streets to protest, at NGO headquarters, Monrovia, Liberia, Sept. 29, 2014. (Benno Muchler/VOA)

Liberian authorities said schools closed since July over the Ebola outbreak will reopen February 2.

Anthony Nimely, Deputy Minister of Education for Administration, Research and Development, said the decision followed the recent decline in the number of new Ebola cases.

“We have been paying attention to the whole epidemiology of the disease. We’ve seen that the incidences have gone down drastically in a lot of places. And so, in consultation with different authorities including the health authorities, we thought that we needed to take the chance to open schools so that children can get back to the learning process,” he said.

Nimely also said schools must reopen to ease the growing problem of an overaged student population. But, he said, the students will be made to follow already established Ebola preventive procedures.

“The first thing is that we’re going to ensure that the physical environment itself is disinfected in terms of fumigation; we’re going to make sure that every school has a hand washing station,” Nimely said.

Nimely said monitors will also be posted at schools to make sure students wash their hands before entering their respective classrooms.

“We are also considering the fact that we can have an isolation center where students and teachers will be tested. And, after they are tested and we suspect that there is temperature or fever, we can hold them in isolation and have a referral to the nearby hospital,” Nimely said.

He said authorities might have to extend the school day to make up for lost time because of the closure.

“The curriculum has certain of hours to run the school year. So, what we will do is to have adjusted the timing to ensure that the number of hours required for a complete exhaustion of the school curriculum. So, we might have longer hours in school so that we can be able to catch up on the assignments that were lost [by the school closure],” Nimely said.

Nimely said the reopening of schools will be done in phases because some districts in the country are Ebola-intensive while others are not.

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