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Jakarta Post

Some Jakarta schools close for fear of COVID-19

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, March 11, 2020   /   02:54 pm
Some Jakarta schools close for fear of COVID-19 A security guard enters the COVID-19 observation post at the Sulianti Saroso Infectious Diseases Hospital in North Jakarta on March 4. (Antara/Muhammad Adimaja/)

Some international schools in Jakarta are closing their doors in an effort to protect students and teachers from the COVID-19 coronavirus, which continues to spread globally.

By Tuesday, Indonesia reported eight more patients had tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total of confirmed cases in Indonesia to 27.

The Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS) announced it was closing its kindergarten, elementary, middle and high schools.

"JIS has decided to implement home and online learning for all students starting Thursday, March 12 to Friday, March 20," school spokesperson Sinta Sirait told The Jakarta Post via email.

According to Sinta, the school would refer to the international standard of home or online learning using the Google Classroom web service and several other applications that are tailored for different levels. Sinta said that the home and online learning would be followed by JIS' March break, which is part of the normal JIS academic calendar and occurs from March 23 to 27.

The school already canceled academic activities on March 10 and 11, repurposing the time to be used as preparation days.

"The decision to implement home and online learning for our students was the result of in-depth consultations with the international health organization, Indonesian authorities, several embassies in Indonesia and other organizations with authority on the matter," Sinta said.

While the school vowed to run a high level of education through online learning, it also said parents had been informed weeks prior to the implementation and were invited to parent-teacher meetings to discuss how to support their children's home learning.

At least eight other international schools in Jakarta have apparently closed out of fear of COVID-19, including the ACG School Jakarta in Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta, which reportedly suspended classes and all extracurricular activities last week.

However, the eight schools declined to confirm the reports.

Meanwhile, through a written statement on March 2, the Jakarta Education Agency called for all state schools in the capital to promote healthy and clean lifestyles.

Agency head Nahdiana said that further adjustments at state schools to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak would be carried under the supervision of the Education and Culture Ministry.

"The matter of school days off, however, also depends on the Health Ministry's assessment and their decision," she told the Post via text message, indicating that as many as 1,970 state schools from elementary to senior high in Jakarta were still operating normally.

Likewise, Gandhi Memorial Intercontinental School (GMIS) in North Jakarta is an example of an international school that decided to operate normally, although it said it has taken preventive actions against the spread of COVID-19 on school premises.

According to the GMIS principal Ashok Pal Singh, the school informed parents and students on March 9 about the efforts it had taken to prevent the disease, including a thorough cleaning of the buildings.

The school checks the body temperatures of everyone entering the premises and it canceled morning assemblies until further notice.

"[If] someone gets COVID-19 in the school and the [education] ministry orders us to close the school, then we will close it. Otherwise, we are not closing it," Singh said. "We have to fight [COVID-19], so closing the school is not an option for us."

Despite having no plan to close the school in the near future, the GMIS has already prepared an online learning management system called Managebac as a precaution in case they have to close.

"We are continuously monitoring the rapidly evolving situation," he said. "But if we close, it means we are adding to the fear."

"Our greatest enemy right now is not the virus itself. It's fear, rumors and stigma. And our greatest assets are facts, reason and solidarity," said Singh, quoting a statement by World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom.

The Don Bosco private schools in South Jakarta, meanwhile, also decided to operate normally with only a little adjustment to the situation. 

Don Bosco’s education division head Anton Sunarto said that students' parents had been sent written advisories about precautionary steps against COVID-19, such as advising sick students to remain at home and encouraging parents to pack healthy lunch boxes for their children. (trn)