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MOE will consider closing schools when air quality forecast enters ‘hazardous’ level

MOE will consider closing schools when air quality forecast enters ‘hazardous’ level

Hazy skies seen from Serangoon on Sep 14, 2019.

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Education (MOE) said on Sunday (Sep 15) that it will consider closing schools when the air quality forecast enters the "hazardous" level.

With schools reopening on Monday after a week-long vacation, MOE assured parents that schools were "ready to respond and take appropriate haze management measures," it said in a media release. 

READ: Singapore’s air quality expected to 'gradually improve' in next 24 hours: NEA

READ: Haze hits unhealthy levels in Singapore as PSI exceeds 100 for the first time in 3 years

As of 4pm on Sunday, the 24-hour PSI reading in the western part of Singapore was at 110. 

According to the National Environment Agency (NEA), PSI readings of 50 and below denote “good” air quality, “moderate” for 51-100 , “unhealthy” for 101-200, "very unhealthy" for 201-300 and "hazardous" above 300. 

"As was the case in 2015, we will consider closing schools when the air quality forecast for the next day is ‘hazardous’," said MOE. 

In late September 2015, primary and secondary schools were closed as the air quality in Singapore was expected to enter the "hazardous" range. The GCE O-Level Music practical exam was also rescheduled due to the air quality conditions.

Cable cars are seen amid the haze in Singapore on Sep 12, 2019. Huge fires in Indonesian rainforests have led to a drop in air quality across Southeast Asia. (Photo: Roslan RAHMAN/AFP) ​​​​​​​

READ: Stronger ASEAN cooperation needed to tackle haze, says Masagos as Singapore offers help to Indonesia

MOE said that all primary and secondary school classrooms, as well as its kindergartens and Special Education (SPED) schools, have been equipped with air purifiers "to enhance the well-being of students during a haze situation". 

"Teachers will also be on the lookout for students who are unwell or have pre-existing lung or heart conditions," said the ministry. 

MOE reminded parents to ensure their children have their medication, such as inhalers for asthma, with them.

“In making any decision to close schools, MOE in mindful of the disruptions to families’ care arrangement for their child, and will take into consideration all available information, health advisories and forecasts from the relevant authorities regarding the next day’s haze situation,” said the ministry. 

It added that if school closures coincided with national examinations such as the PSLE, the affected examination papers would be rescheduled and the examination period extended.

On Saturday, the 24-hour PSI reading entered the "unhealthy" range for the first time since August 2016 as the western part of the island recorded a PSI of 103 at 4pm.

Readings across the island also rose throughout the evening, with the PSI hitting 116 in the west, 113 in the south, 104 in the east, 103 in the north and 98 in the central region by midnight.

The one-hour PM2.5 concentration readings ranged from 90-158µg/m3 at 4pm, with the west seeing the highest levels of 158µg/m3 in Band III (High).

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Source: CNA/ga


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