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Indonesian Catholic schools receive 'new normal' rules

National Council of Catholic Education seeks to get a head start in reopening its schools as Covid-19 lockdowns are eased

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Indonesian Catholic schools receive 'new normal' rules

Children attend classes at Good Shepherd Catholic Elementary School in Abepura, Papua, in this 2008 file photo. Indonesia's National Council of Catholic Education has released 'new normal' guidelines. (Photo: Ryan Dagur/UCA News)

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The National Council of Catholic Education in Indonesia has released “new normal” guidelines for Catholic schools to practice when the government reopens them as part of its Covid-19 lockdown easing plans.
Council chairman Franciscan Father Vinsensius Darmin Mbula said the guidelines were published on June 8 and had been sent to each diocesan education council.
"Because of the various contexts of each region, we ask each diocese and school to make more technical provisions referring to the new protocols," he told UCA News.

He said the main concern is the safety of all school members, hence requiring schools to make careful preparations before deciding to start activities despite having received the green light from the government.

Crucial elements stipulated in the guidelines were measures for handling anyone found to be infected, optimizing cooperation with parents and integrating education about the virus into learning material.

"We want to make sure that schools are prepared to enter the ‘new normal’ because it requires some adjustments," he said.

The Ministry of Education and Culture has said the new school year will start next month, but online lessons were still being recommended, with the decision to reopen schools being left to each region.

In several regions, local governments were only beginning to draft protocol for easing restrictions.

Father Mbula said his council’s guidelines was expected to help Catholic schools reopen more quickly. "We want to assure parents that their children will be safe in Catholic schools,” he said.

Petrus Widodo, secretary of Palembang Archdiocese’s Education Council in South Sumatra, said the guidelines were being studied and would be incorporated in their own protocols.

"We have already informed parents that we will adopt measures to safeguard their children so that they do not worry when the school opens," said Widodo.

Indonesia has more than 5,200 Catholic schools with eight million students.

The country recorded 1,241 new Covid-19 cases on June 10, taking the total to 34,316 with 1,959 deaths.

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