Yemen ends school year as COVID-19 infections rise

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden


A Yemeni boy holds his notebooks at an open-air class near an unfinished school on September 16th, 2019, in the south-western village of al-Kashar in Taez province's Mashraa and Hadnan district. [Ahmad al-Basha/AFP]

Yemen's Ministry of Education has ended the 2019/2020 school year ahead of schedule as the number of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infections in government-controlled areas continues to rise.

As of Thursday (May 14th), there were 70 COVID-19 infections in Yemen, including 12 deaths, and the UN has voiced concern that the virus may have been circulating undetected in the war-torn country.

"The decision to end the school year early was made after receiving the approval of the supreme emergency committee for combatting COVID-19," the ministry said in a statement carried by local media.

Younger students will not be required to sit their end-of-year exams, while June 28th has been set as the date for older students who still need to take them.

The ministry had suspended classes in March as part of its measures to confront coronavirus, and at that time said classes would resume by the end of May.

The additional confirmed cases have forced it to end the school year early.

"The ministry has made this decision because of the current circumstances in the country, and out of concern for the safety of students and their families," Deputy Minister of Education Hussein Baslim told Al-Mashareq.

"The supreme emergency committee has approved the ministry's proposal in this regard, as it coincides with the announced precautionary measures, including staying at home and social distancing," he said.

"The ministry will hold the secondary school exams on time, and those students have to use the educational e-platform to keep up with their lessons and prepare for exams," he said.

Minister of Public Health and Population Nasser Baum stressed the importance of community awareness, saying this is the main way to prevent the virus from spreading in Yemen.

He stressed the need for all Yemenis to abide by the government's precautionary measures, including social distancing and remaining at home.

Baum also urged provincial authorities to implement precautionary measures in any areas where they have not yet been put into place or enforced.

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