Hundreds of thousands of children walked through the streets of the Gaza Strip on Saturday to return to classes after five months of shutdown - though authorities said they were ready to close schools again if coronavirus cases spike.
ce mask gestures as Palestinian students sit in a classroom at a United-Nations run school as a new school year begins amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Gaza City August 8, 2020. (Reuters)
Gaza, mostly cut off from the world by an Israeli-led blockade, has not recorded any COVID-19 cases in the towns and refugee camps where around two million Palestinians live.
“We want everyone to realize that education amid (the) corona pandemic is different, and things don’t proceed as they normally would,” said Farid Abu-Athra, an education official with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza.
“So far in Gaza the situation is better, and it allows us to open schools normally,” he told Reuters.
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Health workers will sanitize Gaza’s 751 schools twice a day, officials said. Children do not have to wear masks but must bring their own lunch and outdoor breaks are banned.
2020-A Palestinian worker wearing a protective face mask sanitizes a classroom in a UN-run school before a new academic year starts, amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus in Gaza City, on August 4, 2020. (Reuters)08-04T104256Z_1206425693_RC2Y6I9Z6Y7A_RTRMADP_3_HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS-PALESTINIANS
Plans were already in place to halt classes should the virus spread into Gaza’s densely-populated towns, Abu-Athra said.
About 40 km (25 miles) away in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, which has reported a spike in COVID-19 cases, high school classes began this week but elementary schools remain closed.
West Bank health officials have reported 94 deaths and 13,600 cases, most of them in the last two months.