Parents unhappy with last-minute decision to close schools due to haze

Parents unhappy with last-minute decision to close schools due to haze
PHOTO: The Star/ANN

PETALING JAYA - Parents and teachers were relieved with the Education Ministry's decision to close schools due to the haze but many were unhappy with being told only at the eleventh hour.

Corporate training manager Jacqueline Ambrose, 43, said she expected an announcement on Sunday night after a weekend of bad haze.

"We are relieved that schools are closed but the notice was a little late in coming, seeing that the haze was visibly critical from Saturday itself.

"We are disappointed that the Government dallied in deciding to keep our children out of school and indoors," said Jacqueline whose children are 14 and 12 years old.

The Education Ministry ann­ounced just before midnight on Monday that schools in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Negri Sembilan and Malacca would be closed. The ministry said it had no choice but to make the snap decision to close schools when the Air Pollutant Index (API) reached 195 on Monday night.

Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said the ministry issued the announcement at 11.30pm.

Some parents only learnt of the move through social media or friends while others received word from their school administrations.

"The announcement was done late at night.

"How many parents, especially those with children studying in morning session like me would be up at that hour?" housewife Lynn Lee, 37 asked, adding that she had woken up at night to read a WhatsApp message on the closure from a friend.

Rachel, a 35-year-old secondary school teacher in Kuala Lumpur said there were many students who went to school yesterday only to be told to go back home.

She said things were already bad last week and the school did not have any outdoor activities due to the haze.

"However in our school, the classroom's windows and doors are wide open so we are all exposed to the haze during the school hours.

"I pity my students, they were rather tired and some were falling sick," she added.

In Ampangan, Seremban, self-employed Abdul Nasir Abdullah, 53, said the announcement came too late.

"The authorities should be more sensitive to these things," he said adding that his wife who ran a food stall near a school near here lost business as most of her customers, including parents, did not turn up following the closure.

In Shah Alam, Helena, a teacher with an international school, said her principal e-mailed her around 1am to inform the teachers on the ministry's decision.

"My principal said the teachers are required to stand by in school, just in case parents send their children to school.

"At about 4am, I received another e-mail from the administration stating that parents were notified about the closure," said Helena.

"The teachers attended a briefing and were told to email the homework for today as well as Thursday, in case the school remains closed," said Helena, adding that teachers were allowed to go home shortly after that.

Pan Malaysian Bus Operators Association president Datuk Mohamad Ashfar Ali said that a few schoolbus drivers complained about the lack of notice but were glad that schools were shut.

"Driving around in the haze endangers both drivers and pupils. While the timing caught us offguard, the decision was welcome."

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