Closure of schools leaves parents in the lurch


A security guard at SMK Pasir Putih placing a sign informing about the closure until tomorrow.

JOHOR BARU: Many parents and students were caught off guard when the Johor Education Department decided to close all 475 educational institutions in the Pasir Gudang district following the latest chemical pollution incident in the area.

Many had to take emergency leave to take care of their children as they were unable to find caretakers for them.

Dispatch rider Karim Abdullah, 37, said his wife, a receptionist at a factory in Masai, had to take emergency leave to care for their two school-going children.

“We only got the notification at about 10pm on Monday. Luckily my wife is in the school’s Whatsapp group and got the news,” he said, adding that they would be leaving their children with their relatives for the next few days.

Karim hoped the authorities would nab those behind the irresponsible act which was causing a lot of danger and inconvenience to the public.

P. Selvakumar, 42, said he had to take leave to be with his three children as his wife was away in Penang on work matters.

“Luckily, my employer was understanding and allowed me to take leave at the last minute,” he said, adding that he planned to take his children to his parents home in Muar for the next few days.

He said his children’s teachers were proactive and had even sent additional homework for them to do during the closure via Whatsapp.

Selvakumar hoped the situation will return to normal soon as the extra holidays, including the ones during the Sg Kim Kim incident in March, affected his children’s education.

Johor decided to temporarily close the 475 educational institutions as since June 20, more than 100 students and some adults suffered from breathing difficulties and nausea due to chemical pollution in the area.

There are 475 educational institutions in Pasir Gudang registered with the state Education Depart­ment, comprising 111 primary and secondary schools, three higher education institutions, 14 private and international schools and 347 private kindergartens.

State Education Department director Azman Adnan said the premises would be closed for three days, until June 27, to allow the authorities to carry out works to clear the pollution.

“All school principals and headmasters were told to inform students, teachers, parents and staff about the closure.

“The department will continue to monitor the situation and take measures to ensure their well-being,” he said.

To-date, more than 100 students from more than 30 schools have been affected by the pollution.

This is the second time in three months that the authorities had ordered all schools in the district to be closed due to pollution.

In March, schools were closed following toxic fumes from Sungai Kim Kim polluting the area.

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