Children go back to school in NW Syria after devastating quakes

Ward Shreit, 10 year old student

Students returning to school in the opposition-held northwest territory recently took part in evacuation drills in case of future earthquakes.

Ahmad Sheikh Ahmad, the head teacher of Harem Boys School, said the educational board decided to design and implement these drills for the safety of the children and teachers alike, and on Saturday and Sunday, the school dedicated the last two class sessions to the drills.

“We taught them that if they hear the sirens ringing, they must proceed in an orderly and calm way to the school’s playground since it is a flat area that can accommodate everyone,” Ahmad said.

“In case it was a – God forbid – strong earthquake, we taught them how to take cover under their desks with their hands over their heads to protect themselves. If students are not in the classrooms or outside once the sirens ring, then they must adopt the brace position and find a corner of a wall and stay there.”

Attendance was only at half capacity on Sunday as students are still shaken up, the head teacher said, adding that he hoped that the return of school hours will contribute a sense of normalcy to students’ lives.

Students at Harem Boys School adopt the brace position in an evacuation drill designed for future earthquakes

Schools damaged

According to the ministry of education in the Idlib governorate, about 250 schools in the region were damaged in the quakes, primarily in the cities of Harem, Salqin, Atarib, Idlib, and al-Mulund. One school was completely destroyed, and the majority of the schools – 203 – were partially damaged. The remaining schools suffered from minor damages.