Reliable Water + Knowledge on COVID-19 = Safe Return to School

Thursday, August 12th, 2021

Students participate in the COVID prevention training at Susu Gospel Church.

Students around the world are back to school or are about to start a new school year. At each of our projects, we provide hygiene and sanitation training to prevent the spread of diseases – including COVID-19. Access to safe, reliable water is critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19. But access alone is not enough. Students and staff need the right information to prevent getting and spreading the virus.

Our teams recently held a training at the Susu Gospel Primary School in Sierra Leone. We emphasized handwashing with soap, physical distancing, mask-wearing, how COVID-19 is spread, and more to help the students and staff stay healthy this year.

After the training, we spoke with student Sanu K about what he learned and what it was like being out of school when everything shut down last year.

Sanu K

How was this training valuable to you? How do you think this new knowledge will impact you?

The training has raised more awareness, because personal and environmental cleanness has become a mandate to everybody, and the use of face masks and physical distancing has now been practiced in our homes. Most apparently sneezing, which was done at random – now family members and I are sneezing on our elbows to stop the spreading of the virus.

Before this training, what was your school already doing to stop the spread of the virus?

There is a provision of water or handwashing stations with soap for washing hands by pupils before entering their classes. After the lunch break, [they] test the temperature of all the pupils with a thermometer before entering classes. [Also,] the proper use of face masks, and observing physical distances when they are in class.

Now that you’ve completed training, are there any new steps you plan to take to prevent the spread of the virus in your school or at home?

The importance of frequent hand washing is one of the most helpful parts of this training I received because I was so careless about washing hands frequently and using face masks when being in public places.

How were you impacted by schools closing due to COVID-19?

The closing of schools during the Covid-19 pandemic did not make any good impact on my education life. When the schools were shut down, I was so devastated, because I love to go to school every day and learn new things, so I was unhappy staying at home all the time, not going to school for complete half a year. The closing of schools during the pandemic did not positively impact my life as a student.

How do you feel about the virus? Do you have any worries about it?

I felt bad about it when I heard the news about the dangers of the virus. Yes, I was worried about it, more especially when people are dying every day in the world.

How do you feel about being back at school?

I was happy when I heard the news of the reopening of schools again. That was the happiest day in my life because I am tired of staying at home without going to school.

The Water Project continues to support students like Sanu as they return back to school this fall. Students around the world will face new challenges as they return to class and we wish a safe and healthy return to school for all!

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Tom Murphy

Tom is a Program Officer with The Water Project after working as a humanitarian journalist for 8 years. His work appeared in publications ranging from the Guardian to Foreign Policy to NPR, covering topics including water in India, agriculture in Kenya, public health in Haiti, and electricity access in Ghana.