KUCHING: All Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) candidates in Sarawak are still required to sit for their examination tomorrow so long as the Air Pollution Index (API) readings do not exceed 300.
State Education Department director Dr Azhar Ahmad 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 told The Borneo Post when contacted today.
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.
“Basically all schools affected by haze with API readings of 200 and above should be closed.”
However, he noted that the decision to close is empowered to the schools’ principal or headmaster involved based on the latest API reading at 6pm everyday.
“They will inform the PPDs and State Education Department on this decision on a daily basis.”
As of 12pm, the air quality remained at a ‘very unhealthy’ level for Kuching, Sri Aman and Samarahan with readings at the respective Department of Environment’s stations at 248, 246 and 202.
Four other stations recorded ‘unhealthy’ readings namely Sarikei with 192, Sibu (158), ILP Miri (133) and Mukah (113).