Children at St. Assisi Kindergarten in Pekanbaru in Riau Islands province. (Photo supplied)
More than 40 teachers in Indonesia have died due to Covid-19, heightening concerns about government plans to resume classes despite a survey revealing more than 70 percent of schools are not ready to implement social distancing protocols.
According to the Federation of Indonesian Teachers' Union (FSGI) as of Aug. 24, at least 42 teachers and two school administration personnel had died from the virus, while hundreds were reported infected.
“The infection estimate is likely the tip of the iceberg,” Fahriza Tanjung, deputy FSGI secretary-general, told UCA News.
He said teachers were being infected because they were still required to go to schools to fulfill their administrative obligations.
He said it is also disturbing the government is allowing schools to reopen in areas considered to have a low infection rate when most schools are not ready to comply with health regulations.
Retno Listyarti from the government’s Indonesian Child Protection Commission warned local governments and schools not to rush to reopen.
She said a survey conducted recently revealed that the majority of schools in three provinces on Java — Jakarta, West Java, and Banten — were not ready to implement social distancing and health measures.
“At least 74 percent have no anti-Covid-19 committees as required. They also cannot provide basic requirements such as disinfectant and adequate facilities,” she said.
Father Vinsensius Darmin Mbula, chairman of the National Council of Catholic Education, said the organization had told Catholic schools to make sure all safety measures are in place before reopening.
"Even though the government has permitted them to reopen, we hope they do so unless proper preparations have been made," he told UCA News.
Sister Lamberta Siboro of the Franciscan Sisters of Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary and principal of St. Assisi Kindergarten in Pekanbaru, Riau Islands province, said they were forced to reopen. The school was at risk of closing permanently if it didn’t reopen, she said.
“We were in a dilemma. If we didn’t, parents would not have enrolled their children. If there are no new students, how can we survive?” she asked.
She said teachers are required to carry out regular health checks in coordination with parents.