Indonesian kindergarten keeps kids engaged during pandemic

Staff members check students’ body temperatures upon arrival at a school in Jakarta back in March. (AP pic)

SEMARANG: As schools struggle to keep pupils engaged during the pandemic, a kindergarten on Indonesia’s Java Island is getting pupils back in the classroom using makeshift transparent cubicles and also sending teachers on home visits with social distancing barriers.

Permata Hati Kindergarten, a private kindergarten with 135 pupils in the city of Semarang in Central Java province, is allowing six pupils per day to spend time in the classroom, giving children a chance to attend school once every two weeks.

Central Java has recorded Indonesia’s fourth highest number of infections and at least 287 people have died in Semarang alone, according to government data.

Accompanied by parents, the children sit within protective boxes made using plastic sheets that are disinfected after each classroom session to get guidance to direct their learning.

“The transparent box is one of our commitments for prioritising health protocols,” said headmistress Hindarwati, who uses one name like many Indonesians.

Everyone attending the school is required to wear a mask, face shield, gloves and have temperature checks.

Parents uncomfortable with risking sending their children to school can choose home learning with online sessions via video conferencing applications like Zoom.

“I’m not bored at all, because I can do Zoom calls with all my friends, I can also meet my teacher. I love it,” said five-year-old Jihan Notharisa.

The learning sessions include dancing, music and Quran reading and the kindergarten also sends teachers to visit students at their homes, with portable protective screens for social distancing.

“As parents, we strongly support this activity, so that our children can meet with their teacher in person even though the time is limited,” said Nita Dwi Nurhayati, a mother of a pupil.

Most schools in Indonesia have not resumed full-time physical classes yet unless in “green zone” locations with fewer coronavirus cases.

Overall, Indonesia has reported 98,778 Covid-19 cases and 4,781 deaths, the highest toll in East Asia.