Ebola is weakening its hold on Liberia and now schools are beginning to reopen, according to reports out of the region. Liberia was one of the hardest hit countries in Africa during the peak of the virus, but on Monday, schools were flooded with children after there was a six month break from school – while officials, doctors, and the public fought the deadly disease. Altogether over 9,000 people were killed in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea – and many other were sickened by the disease. Originally, official’s hoped that closures would not impact the overall bottom line of the education stance in the country – but as time went on it became clear that closing schools was going to be necessary.
However, the situation is far from resolved in Liberia. Students are failing to attend at this point since many parents lost jobs, and now can’t afford to pay for things like uniforms or materials. If that’s not bad enough there is also the problem that involves teachers simply not showing up to work – understanding that the disease is still out there. However, officials have said that all schools are required to be opened by March 2nd, and if they are not – they will face serious fines and legal action.
Similar nations that are neighboring Liberia have been working to do the same thing. Sierra Leone opened some schools last month, and hope to have the rest opened by the end of next month. The biggest challenge is getting the students caught up, and getting the schools turned into actual schools again. Many of them were turned into treatment centers for the time being, and it was a matter of getting the schools up to code – and to ensure that reintegrating the building as a school wouldn’t cause more illness to restrike the area.
The situation is still critical even though the disease is waning. At the end of the day, the safety of the students and the communities is key. With the disease spreading as rapidly as it did last time, it is absolutely key that officials work carefully through this very difficult time.