Tag Archives: school closure

A Coronavirus Perspective

What started as an isolated virus a few short months ago has now spread to nearly 90 countries around the world. It’s in the news every day. You can’t escape it, even if you wanted to. Everywhere you look, there’s an article, video, or some sort of reminder that Coronavirus has made itself known. There’s a lot of fear-mongering and panic-inducing information being circulated about the virus and its impact, and it’s hard to know what to believe anymore.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m an expat who has been living in Jakarta, Indonesia for nearly three years. When news of the Coronavirus broke, I wasn’t worried. When it continued to spread, the number of confirmed cases and death toll rising, I knew it would eventually reach us. For one thing, we are in Asia, but more importantly, Bali is a huge tourist spot, drawing millions of travelers a year. Someone with the virus was bound to come here, infecting others. The weeks and months passed, and while every country around us had it, Indonesia had still not confirmed any cases. The country’s top health official said that it wasn’t here because the country was praying. We all knew it was just a matter of time.

When news broke on Monday that Indonesia had their first 2 confirmed cases, we all knowingly nodded, wondering what took it so long to be confirmed. What started as a mild concern that it was here quickly turned into anxiety, as a colleague of mine was hospitalized and put into isolation for suspected Coronavirus. That night we decided to close the school for a 14-day period as a precautionary measure and have been teaching online ever since.

When will they run the test to see if they have it? When will we get the results? What happens if it’s positive? Who needs to self-quarantine? These and more questions filled all of our heads, but the answers were illusive. What might make sense in other countries in terms of protocol usually doesn’t happen here. There’s a lot of ambiguity and conflicting information out there, and rumors run rampant. I never know what to believe.

Initially we were told that the test results would be known in 48 hours, but when Wednesday passed, we were left wondering and in the dark. On Thursday we learned that we wouldn’t be receiving the results first so that we could draft communication to be sent to our community. In fact, the patient wouldn’t even receive the results of their test until it was announced in a public press conference outside of the hospital where all of the suspected cases are being held in isolation. I’ve never heard of this in my life. The patient can’t even know first?!?!

Thursday came and went without a result. Friday morning we were told the announcement would come at 1:00pm. I’m sure you’ve guessed it by now, but no press conference was held then either. It wasn’t until this evening that a press conference was held where they announced that Indonesia has 2 more confirmed cases, both Indonesian citizens. The other suspected cases were not confirmed but they weren’t negative either. They were kept at ‘suspected’ status, so no real answers.

Meanwhile, our entire school community will remain in self-quarantine for the remainder of the 14-day period, which means 10 more days stuck at home. Not being able to leave your home is okay for the first couple of days, but it quickly begins to wear on you. I think the things I miss the most are social interaction and being active. Despite being in constant contact with people all day while teaching online, it’s isolating. It’s a strange concept. Interacting with others should appease the desire for connection, but communication through a screen isn’t real connection. I’ll be very glad when this is all over.

The xenophobia is real here, as I know it is in other places. Prior to Indonesia confirming any cases of Coronavirus, local newspapers speculated that in order to avoid catching the virus, one needed to refrain from eating Chinese food and watching Chinese TV shows. It also said that you could get it from “breathing the breath of a Chinese Indonesian.” The ignorance and hate toward people of a particular nationality is sickening.

Much like the information coming out of other countries in similar situations, with the Coronavirus fear setting in, Jakarta has experienced some empty shelves and price gouging. I haven’t personally experienced it since I’m in quarantine, but friends have reported extremely long lines and shortages of particular items in the stores. The obvious one is masks. There are next to none to be found in the city, not that I’d want one anyway, but people are panicking and stocking up. The strange one I find is a shortage of onions and garlic. When you do find onions, the price is ridiculous. The normal price is around $2.00/kg, but due to the shortage and demand, the price, if you can even find them, is between $8.00-$10.00/kg! For onions!

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/03/03/panic-buying-hits-jakarta-supermarkets-as-govt-announces-first-covid-19-cases.html

I’m so disgusted by the price gouging I’ve seen. Today in our group chat, when we asked everyone to take their temperatures to make sure they were healthy, a few teachers mentioned that they didn’t have a thermometer. One teacher shared that she had just bought a digital one online and had it delivered the other day, and the price was 100,000 Rupiah (about $8.00). She looked up the link to send to the chat only to find that the same thermometer she bought on Tuesday is now 2,000,000 Rupiah (about $160)!! Insanity! People who take advantage of people who are ill make me sick to my stomach.

Are you dealing with Coronavirus in your community? What’s your perspective?

Day 1 of Virtual School…Check!

Despite the craziness of yesterday and utter exhaustion I felt, my mind was racing last night and I didn’t fall asleep until after 1:00 am. The call to prayer at 4:00 followed by my alarm at 6:00 were very unwelcome disturbances. After peeling myself out of bed and trying my best to cover up the tired on my face with makeup, I made a cup of tea and got ready for my day. First up was a meeting with the Academic Leadership Team, followed by posting all my videos, lessons, and communications to students and parents.

The excitement of the morning, with eager students ready to check out this new way of learning, energized me, the fatigue no longer wearing me. We all went live at 7:30 and encouraged one another through our various chat groups and channels of communications. By mid-morning, I felt like a yo-yo, bouncing around from platform to platform, approving students’ posts, fielding questions from students, teachers, and parents, responding to emails, reacting to situations we hadn’t thought of yesterday, and creating video tutorials on the fly when students weren’t sure how to access this or that.

Throughout the day I was messaging with students on and off in our Teams chat, checking in with them, answering their questions, and encouraging them. A few of them didn’t understand a math concept or were confused about how to get started, so we video chatted so I could work with them 1-on-1. Their reactions were adorable! They were shy, giggled a lot, and commented on how weird it was to see me on the screen. They’ve just seen me two days ago, but I guess the newness and strangeness of talking to me through a computer screen threw them off. It’ll get easier as we go, as they become more comfortable.

Welcome to my new classroom 😊

I was a little better at eating today, snacking every few hours, but the incessant screen time and lack of movement wore me down. A little after noon I noticed my mind wasn’t as sharp, I was not as motivated, and I had a hard time getting things done. Pushing through only made it worse. At 2:00pm I had to step away. I messaged the students that I needed to take a break and laid down for a 30-minute power nap. I definitely didn’t want to get back up, but I have to say, the nap really did help. I was able to get back to students and teachers and finish up my lessons and videos for tomorrow.

Throughout the day, I was reflecting on how it was going, what I needed to do differently tomorrow, and what new techniques I wanted to try. This is the most intense PD I’ve ever had. You’re learning all the time, out of necessity. You know how you hear about this new tech thing or that new teaching strategy and you think, yeah, I should learn more about this or try that out? Well, this is forcing me to learn so much and by the end of it, I’m going to be a much better educator. Gotta look on the bright side, right?

Meetings look a little different these days 😂

For me, the hardest part is trying to balance everything. I’m not taking breaks or caring for my physical or mental health like I should. This year is a unique year (understatement of the century) and I’ve taken on many new roles, which if I’m honest, I wasn’t balancing well even before this virtual school started. Officially I’m the Head of Primary at my school, but due to a staff reduction in October, I took on the role of PYP Coordinator, and then when a staff member left suddenly in November due to health issues, I took on a full time Year 6 (Grade 5) teacher role, too. So while trying to balance virtual school with my own class of 20 students who are in the midst of the PYP Exhibition, I’m also supporting my teachers and support staff through the process. It’ll get easier, I know it. It’s just going to take a bit of time. Fingers crossed for a negative result and quick healing of the teacher in question!

For those of you who are new to my blog, check out my last 2 slices, which give a bit more about the situation (Coronavirus is here and Prepping for Virtual School in a day).

Today I…

For those of you who read my slice yesterday, you know that my school is now closed for a minimum of 2 weeks due to Coronavirus. It’s now 11:30pm local time on 3 March, so all I’m going to be able to do today is a “Today I…” slice. Here we go.

Today I was in crisis management mode all day.

Today I sat in front of my computer and worked nearly nonstop from 6:30am to 11:30pm, only stopping to pee and take 20 minute walk outside.

Today I toggled between email, video chats, What’s App messages, phone calls, group chats, and Seesaw messages as I tried to respond to the hundreds of messages I received.

Today I forgot to eat, until my tummy started rumbling. Lunch at 5:30 is normal, right?

Today I blew my screen time out of the water.

Today I learned so much about this new world of online learning we’ve been thrown into, but know there’s still so much more to learn.

Today I prepped for all my lessons tomorrow. At least I can go to bed and not have that on my shoulders!

Today I typed about a gazillion words. On a positive note, my typing skills have greatly improved!

Today I realized what I’m made of when faced with a crisis.

Today I realized that I can really focus on something when I need to. No breaks for social media, TV, or reading for me today.

Today I logged a whole 4,005 steps, and that’s with taking a walk to clear my head when I was going stir crazy. Man, this is going to be a long ride.

Today I realized that this whole self-quarantine thing is no joke! I need to be more balanced and move my body so much more tomorrow.

Today I realized that rumors spread faster than wildfires.

Today I realized that when push comes to shove, my team comes together and just gets it done. We really played off one another’s strengths and pitched in where needed.

Today I realized that working at this pace is not sustainable. With that being said…it’s time for bed!

Well…it’s here

All that’s been on anyone’s mind these days is Coronavirus, especially for people like me who live in Asia. Until today, Indonesia has claimed that we have had no cases of the virus here, and while the world scoffed at the idea that we could possibly have zero cases, Indonesia was steadfast in its resolve that we didn’t have it.

All of us have known that there had to be cases here since we are so close to other countries with confirmed cases and we’ve had lots of tourists visiting from other Asian countries, but due to the level of healthcare and lack of testing kits, not to mention how it would look to the rest of the world, we’ve not confirmed any cases. Well…all of that has changed. Earlier today, the President announced that there were two confirmed cases. Upon hearing the news, I was not the least bit surprised, nor was I worried.

It wasn’t until this afternoon, when we learned that one of our teachers had been hospitalized and put into isolation for a possible case of Coronavirus, that anxiety set in. The teacher has been sick, but it wasn’t until today that she was admitted into the hospital and learned that she had been in contact with the two confirmed cases. After a long meeting, we’ve made the tough decision to close the school beginning tomorrow while all community members go into self-quarantine for 14 days (unless the test results are negative, at which case we will reevaluate the situation).

We’ll be planning tomorrow and meeting virtually as a staff, with online learning beginning on Wednesday. It’s a less than ideal situation and we are all apprehensive about what all this means, but I hope that the results are negative and that the teacher is okay and heals quickly. In situations like this, you question lots of things, wonder about what will happen, and pray that it doesn’t happen to you or those you care about.

It’s been a mentally and emotionally exhausting day and I’m ready to try and get some sleep.