Haze forces 203 schools to close

Haze forces 203 schools to close

KUALA LUMPUR - ALL 203 schools in the Klang and Kuala Langat districts in Selangor were ordered to close yesterday due to unhealthy air quality.

Selangor Education Department director Datuk Mahmud Karim said the closure, which affected 211,700 pupils, would be lifted once the air quality improved

He said the district education offices (PPD) and the schools had been asked to inform parents or guardians on the latest development so that all affected pupils could return to school later.

"We have informed the PPD regarding the school closure before making the announcement to parents and guardians.

"The order remains indefinitely. We are monitoring the Air Pollutant Index (API) readings regularly before making any decision on reopening the schools," he said.

There are 132 schools in the Klang district which affected 161,700 pupils, while 71 schools in the Kuala Langat district involved 50,000 pupils.

Mahmud advised parents of children with health problems like asthma to inform the principal or headmaster should they feel there was a risk in their children attending classes.

He added they should also don face masks as precautionary measures when outdoors.

Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan said school authorities must remain alert and cautious with the current situation as the main priority was the pupils' health.

"Schools in areas, where the haze had worsened, should continuously monitor the API readings by referring to the Department of Environment's (DoE) website so they can be informed on the current condition.

"The pupils are also advised to wear face masks and drink plenty of water during the haze," he said.

On March 4, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said if the API reading exceeded 150, all outdoor activities would have to be scrapped while the schools would be closed if the API breached 200.

Visibility in the Klang Valley yesterday fluctuated due to thick haze. As at 5pm, the haze had reduced visibility in Petaling Jaya to 500m while Subang and Sepang were at 2km respectively.

The haze has also led to several flight disruptions with AirAsia cancelling all its flights to and from Pekanbaru in Indonesia for two days, starting yesterday due to low visibility.

Meanwhile in Kajang, the government has no plans to declare a state of emergency in view of the worsening haze situation in the Klang Valley and other parts of the country.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel said an emergency would only be declared by the National Security Council should the API reading breach the 500 level.

"There is no need to declare a state of emergency as the API reading in the critical areas is still below 500."

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