Canteen operators left in the lurch when schools ordered closed


  • Nation
  • Thursday, 19 Sep 2019

Early dismissal: SMK Convent Light Street students with their face masks walking out from school after being allowed to go home early due to the deteriorating API in George Town.

Reports by KAREN CHAPMAN, REBECCA RAJAENDRAM, JOSEPH KAOS, EDWARD RAJENDRA, KALAIVANI MURUGASAN, SHEILA SRI PRIYA, MICHELLE TAM, ALLISON LAI

GEORGE TOWN: The sudden order for all 51 schools in Penang’s southwest district to close due to the haze left many school canteen operators in the lurch.

Canteen operator Rohani Yahaya in Balik Pulau, who operates canteens in three schools, said they had already prepared food for the students when the order came in.

“We were lucky the principal let the students buy their breakfast first before going home. If not, all the food would be wasted.

“But I have friends running other canteens who had no chance to sell their food. They ended up just giving away a lot of it, ” she said.

All schools in Penang have been ordered to close today.

Earlier, 51 schools were ordered to close at about 8am yesterday as the haze became increasingly worse. At 10am, all 111 schools on the island were told to close at noon.

In Putrajaya, Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said all schools in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Penang will be closed for the next two days, starting today and tomorrow.

They include residential schools and the Royal Military College, with students told to return home.

“Teachers have the option to work from home if their school is closed but school heads must be informed of this.

“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 said yesterday.

Maszlee said the closure in the four states include kindergartens while institutes of higher learning on the other hand have the autonomy to decide whether to close.

“All announcements with regard to the closure of schools will be done every day, the latest by 6pm.

“Headmasters and principals have the power to announce the closure of their schools if they feel the condition is worsening and based on the Air Pollutant Index (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 (cuti bencana), ” 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 a separate statement, the ministry also said 939 schools involving 911,874 students in Selangor will be closed for two days.

These are 52 schools in Sepang, 129 in Hulu Langat, 72 in Kuala Langat, 104 in Gombak, 139 in Petaling Perdana, 86 in Petaling Utama, 68 in Hulu Selangor, 92 in Kuala Selangor, 64 in Sabak Bernam, and 133 in Klang.

The Kuala Lumpur Education Department said all schools in Kuala Lumpur will be closed

today, affecting a total of 328,004 students.

The department said this is based on API readings in the Petaling Jaya, Batu Muda and Cheras stations, which show unhealthy and very unhealthy readings.

This involves 296 schools overall, comprising 82 schools in Sentul, 66 in Keramat and 148 in Bangsar.

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