Indonesian government chalks July for partial reopening of schools

File photo taken in 2019 of students learning in a classroom. Photo: Denpasar’s Education, Youth and Sports Agency
File photo taken in 2019 of students learning in a classroom. Photo: Denpasar’s Education, Youth and Sports Agency

The Indonesian government is targeting schools across the country to partially reopen by the time the new academic year commences in July, pending the success of a vaccination program for teachers.

The Education Ministry, the Religious Affairs Ministry, the Health Ministry, and the Home Affairs Ministry today issued a joint decree allowing the reopening of schools in July, with the acknowledgement that online learning is far from being the most effective method for education.

“The vaccination program for teachers and education workers is targeted for completion by June at the latest. This is the Health Ministry’s commitment. So by the new academic year in July, we hope all educators can provide partial face-to-face learning service [at schools and universities],” Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister Muhadjir Effendy said during a virtual press conference today.

“Partial” in this case means limiting classroom capacity to 50 percent and imposing a rotation between in-classroom and online learning for students.

More than 5 million teachers and education workers have been registered to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, with President Joko Widodo previously targeting the program’s completion for July.

Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin allayed concerns of those under the age of 18 are returning to school without being vaccinated.

“The prevalence or probability of getting infected by the COVID-19 virus at a young age is small or negligible. If they’re infected, they will recover on their own,” he said.

According to Indonesia’s COVID-19 Task Force, the number of cases involving children aged 0-18 amount to 13.57 percent of the country’s total caseload.

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