Schools must sus­pend classes if there is red alert for smog

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - A TO­TAL OF 23 CITIES

in north­ern China, in­clud­ing Bei­jing, is­sued red alerts and took mea­sures to ease the heavy smog that has smoth­ered the re­gion since Fri­day, in­clud­ing sus­pen­sion of classes for pri­mary and sec­ondary schools. Yet Shi­ji­azhuang city, which is­sued a red alert, did not sus­pend classes un­til Wed­nes­day. Bei­jing News com­ments:

Ac­tu­ally, He­bei prov­ince, of which Shi­ji­azhuang is the capital, is­sued an emer­gency ac­tion plan ear­lier this month, which said that schools could sus­pend classes dur­ing red alerts for air pol­lu­tion. That’s not manda­tory, but the lo­cal ed­u­ca­tion bureau has the right and the re­spon­si­bil­ity to re­quire the schools to take ac­tion.

How­ever, Shi­ji­azhuang did not sus­pend classes for pupils un­til days later. We do not know what the Shi­ji­azhuang of­fi­cials had in mind, but facts show they are rather lag­gardly in pro­tect­ing pupils from air pol­lu­tion.

This is not the first time Shi­ji­azhuang of­fi­cials have made this mis­take. On Nov 30, when the city is­sued a red alert on air pol­lu­tion, the Shi­ji­azhuang bureau of ed­u­ca­tion put a no­tice on its web­site sus­pend­ing classes, but it later can­celed the no­tice and re­quired all pupils to come to school the next day.

Shi­ji­azhuang suf­fered from even higher air pol­lu­tion than its neigh­bors this time. Worse, al­though it is pre­dicted that the smog will dis­perse in most cities, in­clud­ing Bei­jing, on Thurs­day when the weather con­di­tions change, it is ex­pected to con­tinue in Shi­ji­azhuang.

It is time for the of­fi­cials who fail in their re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­tect chil­dren to be held an­swer­able, so that they will deal with the mat­ter more se­ri­ously next time.

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