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Indonesian schools reopen face-to-face class despite Omicron scare

30 January 2022 13:15

JAKARTA. KAZINFORM - Ilmia Rahayu's days have been filled with worries since the Indonesian government decided to restart face-to-face learning in schools in the first week of January, amid a surge in COVID-19 cases triggered by the Omicron variant, Xinhua reports.

She does not want her only child, Zaki Alhaq, a fifth grader at a private elementary school in Jakarta, to leave their house to take an offline learning class even though the school guarantees that health protocol there is strictly enforced.

«Children's immunity is not as strong as the adults. Some of them haven't get vaccinated, and some have just received the first dose not long ago,» Rahayu told Xinhua, adding that COVID-19 vaccinations for children aged at six to 11 just started on Jan. 12.

The Southeast Asian country has recorded a spike in daily COVID-19 cases in recent days, from 772 cases on Jan. 17 to 8,077 10 days later, with peak transmissions expected in mid-February to early March, the Health Ministry said.

At least 90 schools in the capital Jakarta have to be temporarily closed down again as several students and their teachers are infected with COVID-19.

Several schools have even closed their offline learning classes twice in two weeks as new cases of COVID-19 were found in students and teachers, the Education and Teacher Association's national coordinator Satriwan Salim said.

«This is not effective. Schools open and close, open and close. Who knows how long it will be,» Salim said, «Learning activities should be done with a blended or hybrid scheme, with 50 percent of students studying at schools and the rest studying at home.»

Five professional medical organizations have sent a letter to the government to evaluate full face-to-face learning activities, especially for students aged at less than 11.

The Indonesian Cardiologist Association's Chairman Isman Firdaus said that children are vulnerable to severe complications if they are infected with COVID-19, including multisystem inflammatory syndrome.

The COVID-19 Task Force's spokesperson Wiku Adisasmito said schools can close offline learning classes for two weeks or more if any COVID-19 infection cases in the schools are found.

According to Coordinating Minister for Maritime and Investment Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, face-to-face learning activities will still be imposed at this time.

«We have no plans to stop face-to-face schooling for now,» Pandjaitan said at a virtual press conference days ago.