Schools reopen in Ebola-hit Guinea

Tuesday, January 20, 2015
[PHOTO: UNifeed]
Conakry, Guinea: Schools have reopened in Guinea, three months after the start of the school year was delayed because of the Ebola outbreak.

Safiatou Sampou and her brother Moussa woke up at daybreak, making sure that they would have time to prepare and make it to school on time. During their extended vacation they kept up with their school work with a private tutor.

Guinea's Ministry of Education in Guinea developed a protocol for a safe school opening.

The protocol includes temperature screening for all, washing hands with soap and water, minimizing physical contact, not sharing water bottles and food,  and what to do when someone gets sick at school.

Safiatou and Moussa are well versed on Ebola preparedness.
"To avoid the Ebola fever you have to wash your hands before eating. You must wash your hands with soap and water," says 10-year-old Safiatou. 

"When one gets infected with Ebola you get a fever, if you get close to him, you get infected. And also when a sick person is vomiting and you touch the vomit, you get infected," cautions Moussa.

Schools across the country received some 48,000 hygiene kits from the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and other partners, who also trained over 80,000 teachers on Ebola preparedness.

The goal is to make schools as safe as possible.

UNICEF education specialist Sayo Aoki said, "The schools were closed for the summer holidays. When they needed to open again in October, they couldn't opening because of the Ebola outbreak. So, it took us a few months to work together trying to identify, to learn, what needs to be done so that we can make the schools as safe as possible."

For the children and for teachers this was a joyous occasion.
"We have been at home for a long time, so this opening makes me truly happy. I am happy to see my students in school uniforms. Many of them have come. I am truly happy," said Naternin Keita, a teacher:

For the country and for the region it represents another step towards regaining a sense of normalcy while still staying on alert against the deadly virus. -UNifeed
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