Makeshift Hospital
Photo taken on Aug. 1, 2020 shows the interior of a makeshift hospital for COVID-19 patients at the AsiaWorld-Expo, a venue near the Hong Kong International Airport, in south China's Hong Kong. (Xinhua/Wu Xiaochu)

Most of high schools in Libya reopened on Monday for the new semester with precautionary measures against COVID-19 as authorities plan to reopen all schools by the end of this year.

Adel Juma, undersecretary of the Education Ministry of the UN-backed government, said that although limited COVID-19 cases have been recorded in schools, the purpose of opening schools is to provide a chance for students to complete the school year, particularly for high school students, who constitute the largest segment of students in the country.

According to Juma, returning to school this year is optional for students and they can choose whether to go back to school or not.

Ahmad Masoud, head of the National Center of Examinations of the Education Ministry, said that all protective measures have been taken to reopen schools, including providing sanitizers, face masks and thermometers to teachers and students alike.

Fat’hi al-Hariri, principal of a secondary school for girls, said that reopening schools this year is a challenge for authorities.

“Everyone knows that the number of (COVID-19) cases have increased significantly. Despite the challenges, the Ministry of Education has provided all medical supplies,” al-Hariri said.

He added that in order to keep a proper physical distance at school, they plan to reduce the number of students in all classrooms by half.

Sarah Ali, a high school student, said she is happy to return to school.

“We had fears of missing out on a school year. However, after returning today there is hope for completing the school year and taking final exams,” she told Xinhua.

Ali said that she doesn’t worry too much about the virus as long as everyone wear face masks and use hand sanitizers.

Libya has reported 13,966 COVID-19 cases with 237 deaths, according to the National Center for Disease Control.

To curb the spread of the pandemic, Libya has taken a series of precautionary measures, including closing its borders, shutting down schools and mosques, banning public gatherings and imposing curfews.

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