The Jakarta Post
National COVID-19 task force spokesperson Wiku Adisasmito has warned of potential new clusters emerging at schools, after the central government gave regional administrations permission to resume on-campus learning in January 2021.
Wiku said in-classroom teaching could not be done instantaneously and should be carried out according to strict health protocols.
"Schools could become COVID-19 clusters if they don't follow health protocols. They need to fulfill several requirements before conducting in-person teaching," he said during a press conference on Tuesday as reported by kompas.com.
Wiku explained that schools wishing to reopen should be able to provide clean toilets, handwashing facilities, hand sanitizer stations, disinfectants and thermoguns, and have access to health facilities. They are also required to make mask-wearing mandatory in and around the school premises.
Schools should keep track of the health of every student and teacher, their comorbidities if any and their travel histories, he added.
School administrations are also required to seek information on the transportation methods used by teachers and students, and/or whether they have visited high-risk areas and whether they have self-isolated.
“Of course, schools must first have approval [to reopen] from their school committee as well as parents or guardians,” Wiku added.
He also advised schools to limit classroom capacities, implement learning in shifts or batches and ban activities that could potentially create crowds.
"It's necessary for schools to conduct a simulation of face-to-face teaching for at least a month and a half before reopening. All simulations and the gradual reopening of campuses will be successful with the smooth coordination between the central government, regional administrations and cross-ministerial institutions.”
Wiku also emphasized the importance of staying disciplined in implementing health protocols during classroom learning.
On Nov. 20, Education and Culture Minister Nadiem Makarim announced that he would pass the authority to local administrations, schools and parents on whether they will resume on-campus activities in January 2021.
Nadiem said the central government had received requests for school reopening from regional administrations, who argued that some of their administrative areas were safe enough for in-classroom teaching and they were finding it difficult to conduct online learning.
He also listed several negative impacts of online learning that needed to be taken into consideration, such as students dropping out for economic reasons, decreasing early childhood education (PAUD) attendance rates, children struggling with stress from a lack of interaction with peers, as well as increasing cases of domestic violence.
Following Nadiem’s announcement, the National Child Protection Commission (KPAI), accused the government of evading responsibility by making regional administrations responsible for taking care of the necessary preparations.
The KPAI urged the central government to establish a proper information, communication, coordination and complaint system so that both central and regional administrations can work together in preparing for schools reopening, as opposed to letting the regional administrations take over all the relevant duties.
“By handing over the responsibility to the regional administrations without mapping which areas and schools are prepared and which are not, I think [the government is] neglecting its responsibilities,” KPAI commissioner on education Retno Listyati said as quoted by antaranews.com on Friday. (nal)
Editor’s note: This article is part of a public campaign by the COVID-19 task force to raise people’s awareness about the pandemic.