Haiti will reopen some of the country's schools Monday for the first time since the Jan. 12 earthquake, but few are in the capital or other hard-hit areas.

No one knows how long children in those places will go without schooling. Many schools might not open until the fall, said Pierre Michel Laguerre, director general of Haiti's Education Ministry. But with an untold number of children having lost one or both parents, and almost all needing a distraction from the horrors they have witnessed, resuming school has become an urgent priority.

"It gives those traumatized children the feeling that life is back," said Elisabeth Byrs, a United Nations spokeswoman, "and it helps."

SLIDESHOW: Devastation in Haiti | HOW TO HELP | FULL COVERAGE

There also is a longer-range imperative. "Haiti can't have a future without educated children," said Laguerre. "But there has been so much destruction, it's a big and unprecedented challenge for us."

The education ministry and the U.N. on Monday plan to begin assessing the state of schools in Port-au-Prince, as well hard-hit areas south and west of the city, and areas now home to large numbers of people displaced from the city, according to Byrs.

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