UPSR will go on as planned even in haze

Justine (third right) presenting the face mask to Abang Mat Ali. Also seen is Ismail (second right).

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KUCHING, Sept 7: The Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) public examination will run as scheduled from Sept 10 to 12, even when the haze situation persisted.

A total of 40,448 pupils from 1,285 examination centres throughout Sarawak have started sitting for the UPSR on Sept 4 and 5. The examination will continue from Sept 10 to 12.

Education Department deputy director Abang Mat Ali Abang Masagus informed that UPSR candidates will be required to wear face mask to ensure their safety while sitting for the examination.

“There will be no changes on the examination schedules for UPSR from Sept 10 to 12. It will not be cancelled even if the haze persisted until next week but pupils will be advised to put on face mask,” he said at a simple ceremony to receive face masks from the State Disaster Management Committee today.

Committee secretariat Major Ismail Mahedin and Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) acting controller Justine Jok Jau Emang were present.

The guidelines on action to be taken at schools when haze worsened, he elaborated, include having children wear face mask when the Air Poluution Indenx (API) breached 100 unhealthy level and schools were allowed to close when it increased to very unhealthy level of 200.

“This means that students don’t have to go to schools but only teachers and support staff are required to be present,” he added.

Justine (third right) flanked by Abang Mat Ali on his right show the proper way to wear the face mask.

Meanwhile, NREB acting controller Justine emphasised that surveillance work to detect hotspots will be enhanced throughout the state.

“Enforcement officers will be more proactive on the ground around the clock to ensure no unscrupulous burning or related activities that will contribute to the pollution of the environment,” he said.

There are cases in which investigations have been done, but there are also cases which were not caught red-handed. However, we will continue will the enforcement work,” he added.

Justine informed that all NREB offices across Sarawak had been activated when the API breached the 100 mark to enable members of the public to report incidents or situations such as open burning so that swift actions can be taken.

“In fact, permits are required to carry out open burning but the issuance for the permits throughout the state have been frozen since April following Meteorology Department informing us that Borneo island would be experiencing a rather dry weather with less rain this year,” he added.

On enforcement, he pointed out the satellite system will help to monitor and detect hotspots to enable NREB to take actions, be it on plantations or farm land and other lands.

“If open burning is detected on plantation, it is an offence but if outside, we will need to identify the status of the land whether it is a state land or NCR land to determine the appropriate procedures and actions to be taken,” he explained.

He urged the public to be considerate and stop open burning activities especially in this critical period.

The ceremony witnessed the presentation of 2,000 pieces of face mask to the State Education Department.
The haze situation has worsened today with Kuching registering a very unhealthy API of 215, followed by Samarahan at 197 and Sri Aman 178 as at 1pm.

An API reading of between 0 and 50 is categorised as ‘good’; 51-100 as ‘moderate’; 101-200 as ‘unhealthy’; 201-300 as ‘very unhealthy’; and 300 and above as ‘hazardous’.— DayakDaily