The slow return to life-as-normal in Liberia in the wake of the Ebola crisis took a big step forward on Monday, as schools reopened in the country after a six-month closure. During the height of the pandemic in West Africa—which hit Liberia the hardest, killing nearly 4,000—classrooms were shut down to try to stop the spread of the disease.
On Monday, school-age children returned to the classroom, but there were still signs that Ebola was not completely in the past. Liberian officials said more than 5,000 health kits with thermometers and chlorine for hand-washing, were distributed to schools. Education officials are also emphasizing that class sizes should be reduced—from the typical 100 to 40 or 50 students—to help avoid close contact that allowed Ebola to rapidly spread. “UNICEF and its partners are handing out more than 7,200 hygiene kits for over 4,000 Liberian schools and training 15,000 teachers and school administrators in monitoring of safety protocols,” according to Agence France-Presse.
“Many students said they had grown tired of sitting at home,” the Associated Press reports. “A few, though, remained a bit fearful about returning even though there are just a handful of Ebola cases left in the country that once saw 100 new patients a week.”