29 schools in S’gor, 16 in Pahang closed

Haze holiday: SK Kampung Johan Setia security guard K. Baskaran placing a ‘closed’ notice at the school gate yesterday.

KLANG: A total of 29 schools in Selangor will be closed today.

Yesterday, 45 schools in Selangor and Pahang were ordered closed while 100,000 face masks will be distributed to students in Penang due to the poor air quality.

Earlier, five schools in Johan Setia area in Klang district were ordered closed due to the escalating Air Pollutant Index (API) and a directive has been issued to close 16 schools in Rompin, Pahang.

The five schools ordered closed in Johan Setia are SK Jalan Kebun, SMK Jalan Kebun, SK Kampung Johan Setia, SK Bukit Naga and SK Kampung Pendamar.

The Selangor Education Department has also directed other schools to close if the API exceeds 200.

According to a statement issued by the department, any school in an area with API readings above 200, the administration shall take action as stated in the Education Ministry (MOE) circular No. 1/2019 by immediately closing the institution until the situation improves.

“The school closures will not affect the execution of examinations, including public examinations, which will continue as scheduled.“All schools involved are advised to refer to the MOE’s circular and to take action in accordance with the statement in the letter, ” it added.

Asked on how long the five schools will be closed, Selangor deputy education director Muhamad Radzi Abdullah said they would remain closed for as long as API remains at the current level.

Selangor Environment Department director Shafee Yasir said a meeting on the haze situation was held between agencies and the state government.

Shafee said API readings taken at 11pm daily would determine if a school closes or opens.

The API reading was at its highest at 213 from 9am to 10am yesterday but dropped to 194 at 5pm.

Johan Setia residents were also plagued by smoke from open burning on peat soil by small-scale farmers in the area and Bernama reported that many residents in Selangor were spotted wearing masks.

In Kuantan, State Education, Islamic Affairs and Health Committee chairman Datuk Seri Syed Ibrahim Syed Ahmad said poor air quality had forced 16 schools in Rompin to close. If the situation worsens, it might affect those sitting for the Form Three Assessment (PT3).

PT3 candidates are now undergoing the English assessment, which started on Sept 2 and ends on Oct 1. The written examination will then begin and ends on Oct 8.

He also urged Muslims in Pahang to hold solat hajat (special prayers) for the rain to reduce the haze.

In Penang, state environment committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said the API readings hit 137 in Balik Pulau yesterday, well into the unhealthy level.

He said 100,000 face masks would be issued to schools on the island through the respective assemblymen service teams, adding that the schools would remain open for now.

“We are facing a shortage of face masks and the priority will be for schools on the island because the API hasn’t reached critical stage on the mainland.”

Phee said the state would come down hard on those who conducted open burning by imposing the maximum fine of RM500,000.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the state youth and sports committee chairman Soon Lip Chee had directed schools, government agencies and sports organisations to stop all outdoor activities.

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