Malaysian schools get directive on API reading

Pupils wearing face masks while waiting for their transport home in this recent file picture.

PETALING JAYA - All schools in areas where the Air Pollutant Index (API) has hit above the 200 mark must close immediately, said Education director-general Tan Sri Abd Ghafar Mahmud.

Previously, only schools in areas where the API was above 300 must close.

These schools, said Abd Ghafar, must inform the district education office and state Education Depart­ment, which would then inform the ministry's Schools Management Division.

"The Cabinet decided on June 28 that all schools must be closed if the API reading is more than 200," he said in a circular dated Aug 7.

If the API reading was more than 100, he said schools must stop holding all activities outside the classroom for high-risk students.

"Schools must stop all extracurricular activities and any other activity beyond the classroom if the API reading is more than 150," said Abd Ghafar.

Students, he said, should be advised to wear face masks and drink a lot of water if there was haze.

School authorities, he added, should also send sick students to the nearest clinic or hospital.

"Parents who are worried about their children's health have the discretion not to send them to school but they must in­­form the relevant school authorities," he said.

Abd Ghafar also advised school authorities to monitor the haze situation through the mass media and find out more about the API readings on the Department of Environment's website.

API readings of 101 to 200 are considered unhealthy while those between 201 and 300 are deemed very unhealthy and those above 301, hazardous.

In June, Abd Ghafar had said that schools in areas where the API was above 300 must be closed.

Schools were closed in several areas in June when the API levels hit 322 in Manjung and 484 in Port Klang.