Restrictions have been put in place as schools in Rwanda gradually reopen from Monday, but social distancing will likely prove difficult.

Students must wear masks and follow strict hygiene rules – their temperatures are taken and they wash their hands before being allowed in.

Authorities have ordered a maximum of 23 children per class, but this is quite impossible in many affordable public schools that usually have huge numbers.

In Kigali’s Remera Catholic Primary School, at least 46 pupils were in a classroom today.

“Because of the big number of pupils, now we have two by a desk,” the school’s headteacher Odette Mujawamriya tells the BBC.

Students in Remera public school sitting two per desk

Esperance Mukagasana of Rusizi, west of the country, used to cross the border to Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo for casual work. Covid-19 has affected her life and the reopening of schools isn’t good news.

“The border was closed since March, now I am not able to send my children to school because I couldnot go across to work,” she says.

Many households and private schools were hit financially by the pandemic.

A headteacher of a private school in Kigali Vianney Nzabamwita says they discuss an easy payment plan with parents who can’t afford fees, “because we have all suffered”, he tells BBC.

Coronavirus cases, and tests, have remarkably reduced in Rwanda, 5,146 cases have been reported since March and only 190 are now active cases according to the health ministry.

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