NYHQ2015-0823

By Winifred Pritchett

June 1, 2015

On 14 April, Alice Koroma, 13, smiles outside her classroom, at St. Josephís Secondary School in Freetown, the capital. ìI studied at home for two hours every day,î Alice said. ìBut I really missed my friends and am so happy to be with them again.î Strict safety protocols being implemented at the UNICEF-supported secondary school, and in all schools across the country, to minimize the risk of Ebola virus disease (EVD) transmission at school.

In March/April 2015 in Sierra Leone, as schools across the country prepare to reopen after an eight month closure due to the Ebola virus disease (EVD) crisis, the Government, UNICEF and partners are working to ensure that children remain safe by reducing as much as possible the risk EVD transmission. Schools ñ which had remained closed across the country after the July-August break ñ are scheduled to reopen on 14 April, with some 1.8 million students expected to resume their studies. To support studentsí return, UNICEF has facilitated the training of 9,000 teachers to implement safety protocols to minimize the risk of transmission at schools, including taking childrenís temperatures when they arrive at school and making them wash their hands before entering the classroom. UNICEF is also supporting the distribution of hygiene materials and cleaning equipment to prepare school buildings and to reduce the chance of infections; and is providing 24,300 hand-washing stations (about three per school), as well as 1.8 million school kits and psychosocial support for students. UNICEF is also supporting social mobilization activities to raise awareness, and daily government emergency radio education programmes to allow children to continue learning at home during the Ebola crisis, and has distributed some 17,000 solar radios to children in rural communities.

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