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China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHANG YU in Shi­ji­azhuang zhangyu1@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Shi­ji­azhuang in He­bei prov­ince or­dered schools to sus­pend classes on Wed­nes­day due to per­sis­tent smog that has haunted the city for five con­sec­u­tive days.

The or­der mainly af­fects pri­mary schools and kinder­gartens in­side the city.

Other schools in sub­ur­ban coun­ties are to de­cide whether to sus­pend classes based on lo­cal air con­di­tions, ac­cord­ing to a no­tice re­leased on Tues­day by the Shi­ji­azhuang Bureau of Ed­u­ca­tion.

Shi­ji­azhuang has suf­fered al­most 10 rounds of se­vere smog this win­ter, with its Air Qual­ity In­dex fre­quently ex­ceed­ing 500, the most haz­ardous level.

For Novem­ber, it’s the city with the worst air qual­ity among 74 ma­jor cities moni- tored by the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion.

Se­vere smog also hit other cities in North, Cen­tral and East China on Fri­day last week and was fore­cast to per­sist and get worse on Wed­nes­day.

As of Sun­day, more than 20 cities, in­clud­ing Bei­jing and cities in He­bei, had is­sued red alerts, the most se­ri­ous level for air pol­lu­tion. As of Tues­day, many cities, in­clud­ing Tian­jin, had is­sued or­ange alerts, the sec­ond-most se­ri­ous level.

Bei­jing, Tian­jin and two other cities in He­bei — Lang­fang and Heng­shui — also or­dered schools to stop classes, some from Tues­day to Wed­nes­day, with oth­ers just for Tues­day.

Other cities in He­bei didn’t take sim­i­lar moves, leav­ing ne­ti­zens ques­tion­ing why stu­dents still have to go to school dur­ing such bad weather.

“It’s a hard de­ci­sion to make, be­cause com­pli­ca­tions will fol­low af­ter schools are sus­pended,” said Zhou Hui­jie, a pub­lic­ity worker at the ed­u­ca­tional bureau of Jinzhou, a small city un­der the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Shi­ji­azhuang.

In many cases, par­ents or adults can­not be at home to take care of young stu­dents dur­ing week­days, ac­cord­ing to Zhou.

Zhao Jin­gru, head of Jinhe Kin­der­garten in Shi­ji­azhuang, said she pre­ferred for schools not to be or­dered or forced to sus­pend classes.

“If par­ents or other rel­a­tives could take care of the chil­dren dur­ing work days, they could ask for leave,” said Zhao, adding that send­ing chil­dren to school would spare a lot of trou­ble for fam­i­lies with­out adults at home dur­ing the day.

Zhao said dif­fer­ent schools can take var­i­ous mea­sures, such as stop­ping out­side ac­tiv­i­ties or stop­ping new lessons, when many stu­dents are away.

“De­spite such bad air, there is not much dif­fer­ence be­tween chil­dren stay­ing at home or stay­ing in class­rooms,” she said.

De­spite such bad air, there is not much dif­fer­ence be­tween chil­dren stay­ing at home or stay­ing in class­rooms.” Zhao Jin­gru

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