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Jakarta Post

Worsening haze leads to school closures in Riau

  • Rizal Harahap

    The Jakarta Post

Pekanbaru, Riau   /   Mon, August 29, 2016   /  08:44 pm
Worsening haze leads to school closures in Riau Air pollution -- Thick smoke from forest fires in Riau forces the Bengkalis Education Agency to close schools on Monday. (Courtesy of the Riau Land and Forest Fire Post’s air task force/-)

Schools in Bengkalis, Riau, were closed on Monday as the level of air pollution caused by land fires in the regency reached its highest level in the past week.

Besides smoke, ash carried by winds across the area caused eye irritation, reducing visibility to around 500 meters. Deeming conditions dangerous to health, the Bengkalis Education Agency decided to give a two-day holiday to all students, starting from kindergarten to senior high school.

“Actually, schools did open today and students attended classes this morning. Suddenly, we received an instruction from the Bengkalis Education Agency to send them home because the haze was getting thicker,” state senior high school SMAN 7 Mandau principal Masrida said.

Masrida said the school closure was temporary and would be evaluated in two days. “If the weather improves and haze lessens, school will resume on Wednesday. If not, the closure will be extended to avoid unnecessary health impacts on our students.”

Bengkalis Education Agency acting chairman Heri Indra Putera said it had been decided to close schools after Bengkalis Regent Amril Mukminin instructed authorities in areas heavily affected by haze to close schools until conditions improved.

“It doesn’t mean that students aren’t studying during their holiday. They still have school assignments.”

Based on Riau Land and Forest Fire Emergency Task Force data, the air pollution standard index (ISPU) in Duri Camp, Mandau district, stood at 364 PSI, or reaching a danger level, on Monday. (ebf)

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