Friday, December 13

Sarawak Education Department orders schools to close if API exceeds 200

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A woman wearing a mask walks along Kuching Waterfront with other pedestrians. Air quality in Kuching remains at a very unhealthy level with schools expecting to close tomorrow if the situation persist. – Photo by Muhammad Rais Sanusi

KUCHING: The State Education Department has ordered schools in areas where Air Pollutant Index (API) reading has breached 200 to close immediately.

“The principal or headmaster has to inform the District Education Offices (PPD) on their respective school’s closure and the reopening of the affected schools will depend on the API readings to be below 200,” it said while citing a circular issued by the Ministry of Education on measures to take to ensure the safety and health of students at schools affected critically by haze.

It also noted that parents who are concerned about their children’s health are permitted to let their children to take days off from school during this period but their respective schools are to be informed of this.

On the other hand, the circular said that all examinations including public examinations are to continue as scheduled.

“However, the Examinations Board (LP) will postpone the exams if the date concerned is affected by haze in which API readings exceed 300.”

As of 4pm, the air quality for Kuching and Sri Aman remain at a ‘very unhealthy’ level at 249 and 247 respectively.

Earlier today, State Education Department director Dr Azhar Ahmad told The Borneo Post that all Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) candidates in Sarawak are still required to sit for their examination tomorrow so long as the API readings do not exceed 300.

He said if the API readings breach 300, the department will leave the decision to postpone UPSR to the Ministry of Education.

“If the readings have gone beyond 300, then the Ministry of Education will decide,” he said when contacte.

An API reading for good air quality is from zero to 50, 51 to 100 is moderate, 101 to 200 is unhealth, 201 to 300 is very unhealthy and 300 and above is hazardous.

A total of 40,448 pupils are sitting for UPSR in Sarawak which started last Wednesday and continues tomorrow with the Mathematics papers.

Dr Azhar pointed out that the State Education Department has distributed a total of 69,000 face masks to 713 schools in Kuching, Samarahan, Sri Aman, Betong, Sarikei, Mukah and Sibu divisions which are the most affected by the haze.

“We are focusing on UPSR candidates in affected areas which have API readings of 200 and above.”

He also said the State Education Department has instructed all district education offices (PPDs) and schools to follow and comply with the standard operating procedures (SOP) and circulars regarding the ongoing haze situation in the state.