CLOSE to two million students in over 2,000 schools were affected by school closures in several states this week, following the worsening haze condition.
A total of 2,459 schools in Selangor, Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Kedah, Perak, Negri Sembilan and Sarawak were closed, following the Air Pollutant Index (API) exceeding 200 in these areas last Wednesday.
The school closure affects a total of 1,732,842 students, said the Education Ministry in its latest statement on Wednesday night.
The schools in Kedah, Perak, Negri Sembilan and Sarawak were closed on Thursday while those in Selangor, Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur and Penang were closed on Thursday and Friday.
Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said the closure includes the fully residential schools and the Royal Military College, adding that students can go home.
“Teachers have the option to work from home if their school is closed and they must inform their headmaster or principal.
“The school management must take into account the welfare of teachers and ensure no meetings are held during this period.
“They can still be in contact with their students through Google Classroom, ” he told reporters after congratulating the Malaysia Warrior team, a combined team of junior club players, who made the country proud when they emerged victorious after winning the Under-12 Yakult Global Cup football competition in Osaka, Japan.
Maszlee said the closure includes kindergartens while institutions of higher learning on the other hand have the autonomy to decide whether to close.
“All announcements with regards to the closure of schools will be done everyday by 6pm at the latest. Headmasters and principals have the power to announce the closure of their schools if they feel the condition is worsening and based on the API readings.
“They must then inform the state education departments and district education offices. “Schools in these states will not have to replace the two days because the closure is categorised as a natural disaster, ” Maszlee added.
If the announcement of closure comes after lessons have been conducted, he said students can remain in school and teaching and learning will continue as per normal.
“Parents, however, can collect their children from school if they want to, ” he said.
Maszlee said the school administration must follow the standard operating procedure as per the Education Ministry circular dated Jan 15,2019 on the haze.
In an immediate response, the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) thanked Maszlee for his comments on where teachers could be when haze closes schools.
The union urged teachers facing any problem to provide the name of the school to their NUTP branch secretary. - By SANDHYA MENON
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