Indonesian President Joko calls for patience as schools remain shut amid Covid-19 concerns

A member of the emergency alert team sprays disinfectant at an elementary school in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, on Nov 19, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Indonesian President Joko Widodo has called on parents to stay cautious and patiently continue assisting their children in remote learning, suggesting that the majority of schools across the country would still be closed for the remainder of the year amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Addressing the public during a virtual commemoration of National Teachers' Day on Saturday (Nov 28, the President reiterated that the safety of every student and school staffer was of utmost importance during the present coronavirus emergency.

"I realise that there are many parents who can't wait until schools reopen," Mr Joko said, as quoted by "But we need to be careful, because health and safety are most crucial."

He went on to say that schools across the archipelago would still be required to apply and enforce prevailing health protocols once they were allowed to reopen, so as to further stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Mr Joko suggested that parents have their children accustomed to complying with physical distancing measures around the house to ensure obedience during future physical classes at school.

"The key to controlling (the spread) of Covid-19 is our discipline," Mr Joko said.

He conveyed his appreciation for teachers and students, commending them for their swift adaptation to online learning with the aid of communication and information technology.

Challenges inherent to distance learning, such as limited interaction between students and their teachers, could be overcome by bolstering the role of parents in their children's studies, he said.

"Communication and cooperation between teachers and parents must continue to be improved," Mr Joko said.

Meanwhile, a pulmonologist has urged Jakartans to be stricter in following health rules as the majority of Covid-19 transmission in Greater Jakarta came from family clusters.

"Several reports received by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency stated that the majority of cases in Jakarta came from family clusters, in which (a family member) brought the virus into the house," Dr Agus Dwi Sasonto was quoted by as saying.

He went on to say that Jakarta residents needed to pay more attention to the risk of coronavirus infection among family members. The family cluster situation raises questions about the need to wear a face mask inside the home.

According to Dr Agus, taking off a face mask inside the home should be fine as long as each family member followed strict health protocol upon conducting activities outside of the house.

"The problem is, can we actually guarantee that a certain family member has heeded the protocols? Therefore, please follow the (health advice properly) so that we can take off our masks inside the house," he said.

Dr Agus advised people who were unsure whether they had followed health rules properly to keep wearing a face mask inside their house, especially if they live around people belonging to vulnerable groups, such as senior citizens or those with co-morbid diseases.

Earlier, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan warned that a long weekend in August had caused the spike in cases in September in the province. He also warned the public to prevent any recurrence of such a situation.

"(Going on a trip on) a long weekend is indeed tempting, but Covid-19 is still around us. Please do not let our joint effort go to waste," Mr Anies said through his personal Instagram account last week.

Hundreds of thousands of Jakartans reportedly left the city during the five-day weekend from Oct 28 to Nov 1.

As at Sunday, Indonesia has reported 534,266 Covid-19 infections and 16,815 deaths - both the highest in South-east Asia.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.