Spring 2021

Left: Ethiopian teachers and school staff welcomed students back into the classroom in September and put new COVID-19 protocols in place.

Masks are the new norm in classrooms across Ethiopia.

Teachers provide tailored support to students who are struggling to keep up with their schoolwork.

Pedal-operated hand-washing stations minimize the spread of germs.

The nationwide shutdown of schools following the COVID-19 pandemic was a massive crisis to the school community.” -Fetene Alamire, Gonbat School Director

After months out of the classroom, sixth- grader Netsanet Nigussie resumed her lessons at Gonbat Primary School in the fall. Getting back to school was a welcome return to routine —with a few new changes. “Our teachers told us, again and again, the things we should do to protect ourselves from the COVID-19 pandemic,” she says. “They have told us to wash our hands at the gates of the school when entering the school compound. It is mandatory to wear masks whenever we’re in the school compound and even on our way to and from school.” These COVID-19 precautions are the new normal for 20 million primary school students across Ethiopia. The safeguards follow national

school reopening guidelines, which the Ministry of Education drafted with inputs from READ II senior technical staff. Implement- ing these strict hygiene and social distancing guidelines was one of many challenges that school administrators and educators have faced over the past several months. “The nationwide shutdown of schools follow- ing the COVID-19 pandemic was a massive crisis to the school community,” says Fetene Alamire, the Gonbat School Director.

As schools cautiously worked to reopen in September, the USAID READ II Activity helped prepare school leaders like Alamire to address the pandemic’s health concerns and ease other COVID-19 repercussions of the pandemic on their students. More than 3,800 school directors and cluster supervisors — who oversee several schools — completed the training. As schools began to reopen in phases across the country, they passed the lessons along to teachers and other school staff.

Photos by Berihun Ali

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