Sierra Leone: Back to class after the Ebola outbreak - Al Jazeera English

Sierra Leone: Back to class after the Ebola outbreak

Students remain hesitant to attend recently reopened schools after the deadly spread of Ebola.

Tommy Trenchard | | Health, Humanitarian crises, Africa, Sierra Leone

Freetown, Sierra Leone - Children in the West African nation of Sierra Leone finally resumed classes almost nine months after the Ebola outbreak forced schools to shut down.

On arrival they were greeted by buckets of chlorinated water and teachers armed with digital thermometers. Though new cases have dropped sharply over the past few months, nobody was taking any chances.

But amid continued fear of crowded spaces and an economy battered by the restrictions put in place to fight Ebola, just a fraction of students actually turned up.

In one classroom in the Tengbeh Town neighbourhood of Freetown, just 11 out of 105 Class 1 pupils arrived. Their bemused-looking teacher said some of the parents were still too afraid of letting their children associate with others for fear of catching Ebola.

"After so long it's tough to get them back in the system," said Isabel Rissogill, a researcher with Save the Children. "Some are too busy working to support their families."

With exams now scheduled for August, it is a race against time to get children back in school in time to prepare.

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