Some Indonesian Students Return to School, at a Distance
Schools reopened in parts of Jakarta, Indonesia's capital, for the first time in more than a year on Monday. Schools that had been shut by the coronavirus were permitted to begin reopening as cases decreased.
A total of 610 schools that met guidelines set by the Jakarta Education Agency reopened their doors. Although, many safety measures are still in place.
In-person schooling will be mixed with distance learning. In-person learning will slowly increase as the government studies the situation. Young children will go to school three days a week, middle school children will go for four days, and high school students will go for a full week of five days.
City officials at first planned to reopen schools in June. But they postponed the start date when the Delta variant struck and infections increased.
"We have passed the peak of the second wave of COVID-19 infections," Jakarta Vice Governor Ahmad Riza Patria said Monday. He also said that officials hope to reopen all schools by January.
There are 5,341 schools for students of all ages in Jakarta, the government says.
"I feel nervous," said Akila Malawa, a 12-year-old student going to class for the first time in more than a year. "But I'm so happy to see my friends again," she added.
"I hope the coronavirus in Indonesia will end so I can go to school and meet friends every day," said her classmate, Amalwin Harjodisastra.
Schools in several other Indonesian cities also reopened Monday.
As schools restart, government guidelines have changed many class traditions. Talking in class is not permitted and face coverings must be worn at all times. Students cannot leave class during breaks. And classes are smaller and held in two shifts. Teachers must be vaccinated.
The Health Ministry reported 5,436 new infections on Monday, the lowest daily total since June 9. They have decreased since new cases peaked on July 15, when more than 56,000 were recorded.
The city of Jakarta was once the country's COVID-19 center. Now it has recorded decreases in active and new cases since mid-July. Active cases have decreased from about 100,000 to below 8,000 a day. The Central Jakarta Health Service says the number of patients in several Jakarta hospitals is now below 30 percent.
The government says restrictions on public activities reduced the number of infections. Now, they are being eased. Officials have reopened places of worship and shopping areas. Outdoor sports events returned with some limits and people must show they are vaccinated to enter.
Indonesia began vaccinations earlier than many other countries in Southeast Asia. Last month, the country started giving shots to those between 12 and 18 years old. It aims to vaccinate more than 208 million of its 270 million people by March 2022.
I'm Mario Ritter Jr.