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Jakarta Post

Teacher’s union calls for better safety standards as schools reopen

  • Dyaning Pangestika
    Dyaning Pangestika

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sun, August 23, 2020   /   09:29 am
Teacher’s union calls for better safety standards as schools reopen A poster outlines COVID-19 health protocols at SMP 68 state junior high school in South Jakarta on June 16. (JP/Arief Suhardiman)

The United Federation of Indonesian Teachers (FSGI) has urged the government to do more to protect teachers, school administrators and students during the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that several teachers and school administrators have died of the illness.

According to the FSGI, at least 20 teachers and two school administrators have died of COVID-19.

FSGI deputy secretary-general Fahriza Marta said teachers had minimal protection from the virus, despite recent calls to reopen schools.

“Reopening schools will be risky without proper preparation,” Fahriza said in a statement on Saturday.

He added that many schools had already opened and had failed to implement strict health protocols.

Some schools lacked proper sanitation facilities and allowed teachers to instruct students in person without wearing masks. Some teachers did not enforce physical distancing rules during school activities.

Read also: EXCLUSIVE: Nadiem says school reopening 'bold' but necessary amid 'education crisis'

The FSGI found that 51 junior high schools in Toba, North Sumatra, were requiring students to attend in-person classes three days a week.

“We found that only 13 of the 51 schools reported to the Education and Culture Ministry that they had reopened,” Fahriza said.

Of the 13 schools, only one had proper toilet facilities. One school failed to provide handwashing facilities. Four schools were not disinfected regularly, while eight did not check the temperatures of people entering the facility.

Fahriza said teachers and school staff had the right to receive proper protection under the 2005 Teachers and Lecturers Law as well as a 2017 ministerial decree on teacher protection.

“We deserve not just legal and welfare protection but also protection from COVID-19 infection,” he said.

FSGI secretary-general Heru Purnomo urged the central government and regional administrations to provide COVID-19 swab testing at schools and to allocate additional funds so that all schools could have proper sanitation facilities.

“If the government does not have the budget for that, we urge the suspension of face-to-face learning for the time being,” said Heru. (dpk)