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June 24, 2020, 03.01 PM

JAKARTA, – School will never the same again amid the Covid-19 pandemic. When some schools may reopen in Indonesia in July, schoolchildren will be deprived of the simple joys of sharing school supplies and buying snacks in the canteen.

Both parents and the authorities are keeping an eye on how schools plan to safeguard the health of schoolchildren in the event they are allowed to resume in-classroom learning.

In an online press conference last week, Education and Culture Minister Nadiem Makarim announced that schools in pandemic low-risk areas, or categorized as “green zones,” will be allowed to carry out in-classroom learning with strict health protocols in place.

The 2020-2021 school year is scheduled to begin on July 13, according to the ministry’s official academic calendar.

Schools in 85 cities and regencies throughout Indonesia are allowed to resume in-classroom activity as they are located in “green zones.” The number of students in those areas represents six percent of all students across the country. For the majority of the country's student population, virtual learning will continue to be the delivery mode as was done from March to June.

This does not mean though that schools in all of those 85 cities and regencies will actually reopen. The relevant authorities may suggest the reopening, but the decision will depend on what the parents or guardians say through the school committee channels. Most of them are still worried about sending their children back to school, especially those who are still sitting in primary school.

Also read: Coronavirus: More Cyclists to Keep Fit, Bike Sales Boom in Indonesia

South Sumatera Education Agency Head Riza Fahlevi said his office has not received any proposal on school reopening.

“Once a proposal is received, we review it and obtain approval from parents,” said Riza.

He said some steps need to be taken by the schools to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and educators. These include a classroom setting that complies with protocols on physical distancing, periodic disinfection, and availability of handwashing facilities. Schools will have to require their students to bring meals from home.

Health protocols simulation

Syaiful Huda, Chairman of House Commission X overseeing education, youth affairs, sports, tourism, creative economy, and art and culture, urged the relevant education authorities to carefully consider the implementation of health protocols before the new school term begins next month.

“If needed, before the reopening, simulations of health protocols should be implemented to minimize the spread of Covid-19 among students,” Huda told reporters June 23.

“The reopening of schools during the pandemic is a high stakes decision. Until now the Covid-19 transmission rate is still high and has not shown any sign of declining,” he said, noting that schoolchildren are among those considered more susceptible to infection.

Also read: Indonesia’s Health Ministry Prepares for New School Year Amid the Pandemic

Parent’s responsibility

As many people are concerned about the reopening of schools amid the Covid-19 pandemic, young students must be taught how to protect their health. Practicing good hygiene and making them everyday habits should begin at home because this can help protect their health.

The practice is as simple as teaching the children to wash their hands properly. 

Children need to be reminded of maintaining a distance of at least one meter from people who are coughing or sneezing. 

Good hygiene practice should not be taken lightly even in schools located in “green zones.”



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