Konradus Epa, Jakarta
Updated: September 24, 2021 08:16 AM GMT
A school student is vaccinated in Indonesia, where the government has warned schools to follow health protocols after thousands of Covid-19 infections were reported following the reopening of schools. (Photo: tni-au.mil.id)
The Indonesian government has warned schools to raise health protocol standards or risk closure again following thousands of reported Covid-19 infections since students began returning to classrooms in recent weeks.
At least 15,000 students and 7,000 teachers at around 1,500 schools have been infected since schools began reopening at the start of September after having been shut for 18 months.
About 42 percent of more than 278,000 schools have reopened so far since strict social restrictions were eased.
However, the recent surge in cases prompted Education, Research and Technology Minister Nadiem Makarim to issue schools with a warning.
“We will not hesitate to close schools if students are transmitting the virus,” he said.
He said the government is vaccinating students from 12 to 17 years old but schools still had the responsibility to try and prevent the virus spreading. This meant following social distancing rules and conducting testing.
We want to see schools open because students faced many difficulties studying at home
Franciscan Father Vinsensius Darmin Mbula, chairman of the National Council of Catholic Education, backed the minister’s warning.
“Implementing and following health protocols are a moral obligation,” Father Mbula told UCA News.
“While it is important that all students, teachers and parents should be vaccinated, they still need to practice social distancing and other safeguards,” he said, adding, that Catholic schools were strictly enforcing such rules to protect their students.
Philip Situmorang, spokesman of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia, said that although schools needed to reopen after 18 months of closure, safety had to take priority.
“We want to see schools open because students faced many difficulties studying at home,” he told UCA News.
However, if they can’t follow rules on social distancing, class sizes and the wearing of masks, they should remain closed, he said.
….as we enter the last months of 2021, we are asking readers like you to help us keep UCA News free.
For the last 40 years, UCA News has remained the most trusted and independent Catholic news and information service from Asia. Every week, we publish nearly 100 news reports, feature stories, commentaries, podcasts and video broadcasts that are exclusive and in-depth, and developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes.
Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to – South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters who cover 23 countries in south, southeast, and east Asia. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don’t have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.