United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has provided over 7,000 kits for school authorities.
The kits are being distributed by partners to over 4,000 schools in all 98 school districts across the country. They are also helping parents, staff and other community members to keep safe from the EVD.
Schools normally resume academic activities in September, after two months vacation, but due to the Ebola outbreak, had remained closed since last year.
During the distribution, Minister of Education, Etmonia Tarpeh, said, “The Ebola outbreak has had a devastating effect on our health and educational systems and our way of life in Liberia. We have managed to beat back the spread of the virus through collective efforts.”
She then emphasized on the importance the Ministry placed on the reopening of schools as well as getting school age children back to school.
She, however, prayed that the reopening of schools would not be further interrupted, either by the Ebola menace or any other eventuality.
With UNICEF support the Government of Liberia has developed protocols for the safe re-opening of schools, including hand-washing stations, checking students’ temperatures, establishing isolation areas for both students and staff, and having in place a system of referral to the nearest health facility.
“UNICEF is supporting the MOE and the Ministry of Health in our common goal to see Liberian children back to school as soon as possible. The provision of these kits and the ongoing protocols are part of our commitment to the children of Liberia,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative in Liberia.
Over 30 partner organizations are currently delivering the kits, which include thermometers, buckets with faucets, chlorine, soap, brooms and brushes, rubber boots and gloves.
“We urge community members, teachers and staff at schools, and students to ensure that the protocols are implemented to keep students, communities and families safe,” said Tolbert Nyenswah, Assistant Minister of Health and Chair of the Incident Management System.
UNICEF is also supporting awareness on how to implement the protocols and help keep schools safe, including training district education officers (DEOs), environmental health technicians, district health officers (DHOs), NGO partners, and religious leaders in all 15 counties.
“This is a broader support we are providing to the Government of Liberia in its fight against the Ebola outbreak,” added Yett. “We are committed to continue working with together to eradicate Ebola from the country.”
In a related development, Save the Children International (SCI), along with the MOE and local Health offices in Margibi County over the weekend held a one-day workshop for school administrators and community leaders.
The cost of the safe school protocol rollout workshop was put at over US$50,000 for the three school districts in Margibi County.
The exercise was part of the “Protocol for Safe School Environment in the wake of Ebola outbreak in Liberia” being rolled out to teachers, school administrators and community leaders.
The social mobilization following the exercise, according to SCI Education Manager, Augustine Kullie, was also a key component in the fight against Ebola and that the entity looks forward to seeing school administrators, teachers and community leaders having detailed understanding of the exercise.
Kakata DEO, Amanda Zota said her office will ensure the execution of the protocol, vowing to leave no stone unturned in ensuring that the exercise approved is executed.