School Closure Extended by One Week, National Exams Indefinitely Suspended

MONROVIA, Montserrado – Major educational activities are being suspended across the country, as the Ministry of Education has extended its mandate to suspend classes by an additional one week while the Liberia office of the West African Examinations Council, WAEC, has indefinitely suspended its 2020 exams.

Immediately after the country announced its index case of the COVID-19 virus, the ministry ordered all schools, including institutions of higher learning, closed until Monday, March 25.

It said the decision to suspend classes is based on expert advice to allow health authorities to conduct complete surveillance and tracing of those said to have arrived on the flight along with the index case, including all those who they might have come in contact with him.

But in a press release issued on Friday, the ministry said its latest decision to extend the suspension until March 31 was a preventive measure to reduce the risk of the virus being spread. The ministry said its education officers in the counties would work with school administrators to ensure that the mandate is observed.

“The ministry has taken this decision based on the expert advice of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia and the Ministry of Health. Any decision on reopening schools will be guided by the nation’s health experts,” the release read.

“Our highest priority is the safety and well-being of our students and teachers. The Ministry will inform the public as soon as new information is available.”

It added, however, that along with partners, it is developing ways, through the media and other forms of technology, to keep students learning while they stay at home. It also encouraged families to keep their children reading and studying at home.

Meanwhile, WAEC announced on Saturday that three upcoming exams would be affected by the Coronavirus pandemic: the West African Senior School Certificate Exam, the Liberia Junior High School Certificate Exam, and the Liberia Primary School Certificate Exam.

“WAEC wishes to assure all school authorities and candidates as well as the general public that this decision will be reviewed and new dates for the conduct of the Examinations will be published once the health situation improves,” the agency said in a press release.

Featured photo by Bruce Strong/Together Liberia

Gbatemah Senah

Senah is a graduate of the University of Liberia and a recipient of the Jonathan P. Hicks Scholarship for Mass Communications. Between 2017 and 2019, he won six excellent reporting awards from the Press Union of Liberia. They include a three-time Land Rights Reporter of the Year, one time Women's Rights Reporter of the Year, Legislative Reporter of the Year, and Human Rights Reporter of the Year.

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