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Jakarta, Palembang hesitate to reopen schools

Jakarta Post - December 15, 2020

Jakarta – Authorities in Jakarta and Palembang, South Sumatra, are still considering the school reopening plan.

Jakarta deputy governor Ahmad Riza Patria said on Monday that the Jakarta administration was still studying the plan to avoid making any mistakes, antaranews.com reported.

"The Jakarta administration has yet to decide to reopen schools. We are still studying the plan," he said.

Riza said the administration did not want the school reopening to trigger new cases, as had happened in other countries.

Therefore, the Jakarta administration was preparing supporting facilities for online education, such as a free internet service called JAK Wifi that could be accessed by all residents of Jakarta.

"Basically, we hope the education program can run as [planned], amid the pandemic," he said.

The Palembang city administration, meanwhile, is reluctant to reopen schools as the city has been classified as a red zone.

Palembang deputy mayor Fitrianti Agustinda said on Monday that the city would likely postpone the reopening of schools, particularly elementary and junior high schools.

If the city decided to reopen schools, she said, it would be done very carefully and in coordination with the Indonesian Medical Association (IDI) and the Palembang COVID-19 task force.

Previously, South Sumatra Education Agency head Riza Pahlevi asked high school principals to prepare to enforce health protocols.

Nevertheless, Riza said that the decision to reopen schools would depend on regional administrations, adding that school committees would need to ask for parental approval prior to reopening schools.

Education and Culture Minister Nadiem Makarim previously announced that the government would give local administrations, school administrators and parents the authority to decide when to resume face-to-face education.

"School reopening can be done immediately or in stages according to each region's capability and the decision of the regional leader. Schools wanting to reopen must fulfill the checklist for face-to-face teaching. The new policy allows schools in red zones to reopen," Nadiem said on Nov. 20.

He added that the central government had received several requests for school reopening from regional administrations that had argued that some parts of their administrative areas were safe enough for in-person education.

Some organizations have expressed concern about the plan.

The Indonesian Pediatric Society (IDAI) said reopening schools would lead to an increase in COVID-19 cases.

IDAI chairman Aman B. Pulungan pointed out that even developed countries had reported rises in infections after allowing in-person learning to resume, such as South Korea, France and the United States.

"Delaying the plan to reopen schools could reduce transmission. Every person in and around school premises, including teachers, staff and the public share the same risks of getting infected and infecting others," Aman said.

Network for Education Watch Indonesia (JPPI) national coordinator Ubaid Matraji said regional administrations and schools should not hastily resume face-to-face teaching, as they needed to pay extra attention to the danger of coronavirus transmission on school premises.

"The government should stop pushing face-to-face teaching, since there has been an increasing trend of new daily cases in red zones," Ubaid said on Dec. 4, as quoted by kompas.com. (jes)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/12/15/jakarta-palembang-hesitate-to-reopen-schools.htm