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Amid spread of Delta variant, Ethiopia to reopen schools

Avatar: Nigist Berta
Nigist Berta September 23, 2021
City: Addis AbabaNews
Amid spread of Delta variant, Ethiopia to reopen schools
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As Ethiopia saw a spike in cases of delta variant, the FDRE Ministry of Education has decided schools to be reopened later this month, which left many public health professionals worried.

For a virus to be more than twice as infectious as the first version for which kids are more susceptible, what precaution measures in schools are put in place? many asked.

“Even though the variants are new there are no new preventive methods that are going to be applied yet. Masks are one of the protective layers that everyone including school administrators is relying on to minimize the spread of the delta variant. Social distancing also plays a part. Furthermore, different hygiene measurements will be taken into account '' Dr. Dereje Duguma, State Minister of the Ministry of Health told Addis Zeybe.

“Schools have demonstrated that they can successfully stay open and maintain a healthy environment and community by adhering to contact tracing and quarantine protocols in place that we know are effective” he added.

As students and staff are going to stream back to schools, school administrators must battle the highly contagious new form of COVID-19 with the help of the country’s health institutes and sectors. However, it is stressed that many might wage the battle being unable to take advantage of all the safety strategies available to them.

From the perches where experts monitor how well schools are prepared to manage the coronavirus, the picture doesn’t seem as clear as it should be. Accordingly, Addis Zeybe raised a question as to what schools should do to limit the spread of COVID_19 and its highly transmissible delta variant?

“We have seen the dire psychological impact of giving classes in shifts on students and families, and we each need to do our part to ensure that everyone stays safe and healthy when we implement this reopening of schools canceling the shifts,” said Zelalem Mulatu, Head of Addis Ababa Education Bureau.

“We have a very safe environment, and we are making sure that we’re really implementing the preventive measures that are amended by the Institute of Public Health. We also require workers in our school to be vaccinated,” said Dr. Likisa Dinsa, managing director of Dandii Boru School, one of the private schools in Addis Ababa.

“Parents should also help,” he added. “They should make sure that the kids are safe at home and outside of the school, then we would work to reduce parental anxiety which comes by thinking about the kids staying at school.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention diminish the recommended preventive distance for schools from 6 feet to 3 feet in reference to WHO’s new data that puts schools in low-risk environments. The recommended distance in schools is 3 feet from person to person is required but not 3 feet from desk to desk. 

But many parents whom Addis Zeybe talked to are worried that some schools don’t have the necessary classroom space to keep students apart in the required distance.

As the first wave of COVID-19 made its way around the world, countries closed their schools, forcing more than 1.5 billion children worldwide to stay at home according to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research. After sometime later, the schools reopened following different types of measures, whereas Ethiopia chose to teach its children in shifts.

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A PIECE BYNigist Berta

Nigist is working as a reporter and content creator at Addis Zeybe to explore her passion for storytelling. She has Bsc. in medical laboratories & BA in media and Communications.