I’ve been talking to friends and family lately and some questions keep coming up about the Coronavirus. Namely, how it has affected us here in Indonesia. Not a whole lot has changed. According to the news yesterday, there are only 2 cases of the virus here in Indonesia. Those cases are in Jakarta, which is about an hour’s flight from me, on the other side Java. So far, we have school as normal.
What’s it like teaching in Asia with the Coronavirus so close? I have friends who are supposed to be teaching in China. They are staying mostly in Thailand and a few have come to Indonesia too. I have one friend who went back to stay with her mom in Brazil and another who decided to go back home to Venezuela. Nobody is sure when classes will really start so people are trying to save money while teaching from a hotel or the spare bedroom at their parents. Thankfully I don’t have to do online teaching, because my second-grade students don’t even have email addresses!
Is your school full of sick kids? Not so much! Sure, I have students out sick, and my son caught a stomach bug over the weekend that was pretty gross, but it’s the normal flu season so there’s nothing new. Today we started doing daily temperature checks for everyone. In addition to the normal bottles of hand sanitizer that the school lets us refill, they are also hooking every class up with disinfecting wipes. My students love to volunteer to be the one who wipes off their group tables!
Does everyone wear masks? Not really. I have a friend in South Korea who posted a pic of her and her students all wearing masks in the classroom. We are following the WHO guidelines that suggest washing hands and covering one’s mouth are better countermeasures than wearing a mask. That isn’t to say that I don’t some people with masks It is just my job to remind them to leave it on and not touch it if they are choosing to use it.
Are there any impacts to the markets and daily life? I have noticed that the disinfecting wipes are harder to find. I didn’t notice any hand sanitizer at the store either. My helper tells me that many things in the wet market are more expensive than normal because the imports are taking longer. Specifically, she noted that a kilo of onions is $7 which is the most expensive she has ever seen them. Oh, and normal white sugar was not in stock in three of the stores that I frequent the most. I finally found it in a third expat-friendly store, still at the same price, but they only allow 2 per person. The other stores had a variety of rock sugar and palm sugar instead. But everything else seems to be stocked like normal.
Can you find masks in the stores? I haven’t looked and I don’t plan on wearing one. I can really see why masks might make you more susceptible to catching a virus since many people I see using them keep touching the mask.
Am I doing anything special to stay safe? I am washing my hands a lot. I am using hand sanitizer at least twice an hour. I am becoming more conscious about taking a multi-vitamin and making my son take one too. I have shown new videos to my students about the proper way to cover their mouths while coughing and sneezing. We are wiping our tables at least once a day with disinfecting wipes. If a kid starts coughing and saying that they feel sick I immediately send them to the nurse and she most likely will end up sending them home.
My taxi driver the other day said that Indonesia isn’t getting as many cases of the Coronavirus because we have a warm climate, I am trying to believe that. For now, we just continue teaching to the best of our abilities while reminding kids to stay clean and healthy.
To everyone impacted by the virus: I hope things get better soon, I hope you found a nice beach with a free wi-fi co-working space to teach from, and I hope you stay healthy.