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Jakarta Post

From Sumatra to Sulawesi, schools closed, social distancing measures applied

  • Arya Dipa and Markus Makur

    The Jakarta Post

Bandung/East Manggarai   /   Mon, March 16, 2020   /   06:26 pm
From Sumatra to Sulawesi, schools closed, social distancing measures applied Junior high school students in Dumai, Riau, leave school on March 16 after an announcement saying they have to study from home. (Antara/Aswaddy Hamid)

Regional leaders across the country have implemented social distancing measures following President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s call for people to work and study from home to avoid exposure to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Riau, West Kalimantan, West Java, Central Java, Central Sulawesi and West Nusa Tenggara have instructed school authorities, from those at early childhood learning centers to those at senior high schools, to close their classrooms amid an increase of COVID-19 cases in the country.

Central Java, which has recorded four cases, has applied an in-school restriction policy at higher education institutions, meaning physical attendance is prohibited but learning from home is allowed. Riau, meanwhile, left the decision to each of the institutions’ respective rectors.

Despite Central Java’s suspension of activities on campus, students were encouraged to undergo learning activities at home and advised against going out in public.

"It's not a holiday. Students should study at home and do the assignments provided by their teachers," West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil emphasized, adding that teachers were expected to actively communicate with their pupils by taking advantage of existing forms of communication and technology such as smartphones.

The in-school restriction is valid for two weeks starting March 16. Studies suggest that a 14-day quarantine period is effective in widely containing the spread of the coronavirus.

The Central Sulawesi administration also suspended classroom learning, with plans in place to conduct the national exams offline at the end of March.

In addition to the policy, some of the region's leaders have also called for social distancing and urged people to avoid leaving their homes unless absolutely necessary. 

Bandung Mayor Oded M. Danial placed a temporary ban on activities involving a large number of people and closed off public areas, such as the town square, parks, museums and city-owned public facilities.

President Jokowi on Sunday called on all Indonesians to stay at home as the country of 270 million people braced for the worst pandemic in recent memory. 

He highlighted the importance of social distancing to stop the spread of the coronavirus, which has claimed thousands of lives worldwide.

“Under the current conditions, it’s time for us to work from home, study from home and worship at home,” Jokowi said at a press conference at the Bogor Palace in West Java on Sunday.

Vocational high school students in East Manggarai regency, East Nusa Tenggara, take a break at the school complex on March 16. The East Manggarai administration has not closed its schools, with the regent saying the area was safe from the coronavirus disease.Vocational high school students in East Manggarai regency, East Nusa Tenggara, take a break at the school complex on March 16. The East Manggarai administration has not closed its schools, with the regent saying the area was safe from the coronavirus disease. (JP/Markus Makur)

As of Monday afternoon, Indonesia recorded 134 confirmed COVID-19 cases, five of which were fatalities.

Despite the President’s call, some regions without confirmed cases have decided to operate as normal.

East Manggarai regency in East Nusa Tenggara said schools could still run their normal activities considering that East Manggarai was still "safe from the virus". 

Civil servants, however, were asked to limit their activities to inside the region to prevent transmission in other parts of the country. At least eight of the country's 34 provinces have been exposed to the coronavirus. They are Bali, Banten, Jakarta, East Java, West Java, West Kalimantan, North Sulawesi and Yogyakarta.

"East Manggarai is thus far safe from COVID-19, but we are about to form a special task force soon for the prevention and handling of the potential spread of the coronavirus in the region," the regency's secretary, Bonifasius Hasudungan, said on Monday.

Similar to East Manggarai, North Sumatra province as a whole had yet to impose an in-school restriction as of Monday, although some regencies decided not to wait for an instruction from the governor and have suspended classroom learning.  (vny)

 

--Apriadi Gunawan from Medan, Rizal Harahap from Pekanbaru, Suherdjoko from Semarang, Severianus Endi from Pontianak, Ruslan Sangadji from Palu, Panca Nugraha from Mataram, contributed to the story.


If you want to help in the fight against COVID-19, we have compiled an up-to-date list of community initiatives designed to aid medical workers and low-income people in this article. Link: [UPDATED] Anti-COVID-19 initiatives: Helping Indonesia fight the outbreak