Haze forces closure of schools in nine Sarawak districts


KUCHING – Schools in nine districts in Sarawak have been ordered to close due to the worsening haze as at 6 pm yesterday.

State deputy education director Abang Mat Ali Abang Masagus said the districts were Kuching, Samarahan, Padawan, Serian, Sri Aman, Betong, Bau, Lundu and Lubok Antu.

However, he said the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah would go on as scheduled.

“We will make decision for the next day based on the Air Pollutant Index (API) readings at 6 pm the day before.

“So looking at the current readings (today), they (schools) need to prepare to open tomorrow if the API readings continue to improve,” he said when contacted by Bernama.

Meanwhile, the State Education Department in a statement said 409 schools were closed today, including 62 secondary schools and 347 primary schools, involving 157,479 students.

A total of 87 of these schools were in Kuching, Padawan (101), Betong (53), Sri Aman (41), Bau (44), Lubok Antu (30), Samarahan (three), Serian (20) and Lundu (30).

This morning, about 50,000 face masks were handed over by the Sarawak Civil Defence Force to the State Education Department for distribution at schools statewide.

Air quality in Sarawak, however, is improving today, with only Sri Aman currently recording very unhealthy API reading.

Sarawak Disaster Management Committee secretariat head Major Ismail Mahedin said the API was 202 in Sri Aman as at 8 am, down from 241 at 8 pm yesterday.

The API had dropped to 167 this morning in Kuching from 236 last night while in Samarahan, the API was 132 this morning compared to 186 yesterday.

An API reading of between 0 and 50 is considered good; 51 to 100, moderate; 101 to 200, unhealthy; 201 to 300, very unhealthy; and 301 and above, hazardous.