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MONROVIA, Liberia — Students in Liberia returned to their classrooms Monday after a six-month closure during the Ebola epidemic that left thousands dead, lining up in their uniforms to have their temperatures taken before they could enter school gates. Pupils who trickled in to Saint Michael High School on the outskirts of the capital also washed their hands with chlorinated water before going inside.
Many students said they had grown tired of sitting at home, and at least one principal said teenage pregnancy had spiked during the six-month school gap. A few, though, remained a bit fearful about returning even though there are just a handful of Ebola cases left in the country that once saw 100 new patients a week.
Liberia has seen the highest death toll from the Ebola epidemic, with 3,800 killed. Deputy Education Minister Remses Kumbuyah said more than 5,000 kits were distributed to schools that included thermometers and chlorine for hand-washing. Overcrowding is a major problem in Liberia's schools, where as many as 100 pupils may be in a single classroom. Since Ebola is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids, administrators want to minimize the potential spread. Health officials have warned that a single new case could trigger a whole new cluster of infections.