Having lived through the Ebola outbreak of 2014 and 2015, the KEEP team has of course been concerned with the corona virus pandemic raging across the world.

To date, the COVID19 has wrecked havoc and has had an impact on all sectors and the education sector has not been spared. Schools across many countries have been closed. KEEP is committed to ensuring he safety of those we work with and serve, particularly the children.

To ensure the safety of our team members and beneficiaries, KEEP has temporarily postponed all its planned field activities and cancelled all of its regular reading sessions. We have asked out team to work from home to reduce movement and people out in the streets.  

While we have canceled our regular reading sessions, we also want the kids to be engaged academically and as such, the reading rooms will remain opened for up to 5 hours daily for students to come in only to pick up and drop books and educational packets which will contain worksheets and basic educational supplies.

KEEP has been developing (in partnership with Sunshine Productions) mini awareness videos that target children with simple messages on how to protect themselves, what to avoid, activities to engage in during this schools closure, etc.

We have produced several radio ads (jingles) on COVID19 that are targeted at children. These ads are being played throughout the day on several radio stations.

Still utilizing media, KEEP has partnered with Tamma TV (carried via SATCON) to do a one hour  KEEP Reading program which will air 3 times a week. The Reading Hour session will cover activities we normally do at the reading sessions and air messages on COVID19 as well as simple arts and crafts activities.

Expanding our book access opportunities, and ensuring kids who do not have access to reading materials outside of our reading spaces, KEEP will have available books for lending to interested families, utilizing mail delivery services such as LIB Delivery.

With so many children out of school, there has never been a more urgent need to facilitate learning. We are committed to ensuring that this crisis doesn’t result in a generation of children who lack basic reading skills. This pandemic is a sobering reminder that education is critical, and vulnerable communities need support.

For the rooms that will be open during the day for books lending, the following safety measures will

•        Mandatory hand washing before entering any of the reading facilities will be strictly enforced.

•         Access to the rooms will be restricted to not more than 5 persons at a time and the appropriate social distancing will be required while in the room and selecting books.

•         Individuals accessing the rooms to return books will be required to strictly observe the books-returning protocols.

•         KEEP also uses this time to emphasize the ongoing National Reading Campaign and encourage parents to encourage their children as well as actively participate in the Two-Books-A- Week – Reading Challenge. We have enough books. Let’s get reading!

We also recognize that with thousands of non-essential civil servants and staff across Liberia now compelled to stay home, parents are now in an opportune position to encourage and promote a reading culture with their children. Let’s get reading!

With parents compelled to deal with their kids all day every day for awhile, KEEP has developed a few suggested ways parents can keep their children engaged during this period:

•         Maintain a structure – Children require structure and knowing what comes next in each day. Schools help to provide that for them. Now that the schools are closed, don’t let your child break the structured behavior of school. If nothing else, get them reading!

. Develop a simple plan of activities with your kids to fill in the structured school time beginning with waking up on time as you would on regular school days.

•         Use the time for them to review old lessons which you, as a parent, can ask questions about at the end of the day.

•         Incorporate reading and storytelling into each structured activity so that the learning experience is fun, relaxing and engaging. It can be simple things like reading Bible stories, stories from the Quoran, etc. Whatever you do, keep the children engaged! Every day!

Only through education can people build the skills and resources they need to best respond to crises like the one we’re facing now, as a global community.

We will observe the daily updates from the Ministry of Health and the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) and will update our plans and strategies as the situation and gravity evolves.

Corona is real. Keep your children home and safe