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Schools must suspend classes if there is red alert for smog

China Daily | Updated: 2016-12-22 07:45

Schools must suspend classes if there is red alert for smog

Primary school students wearing masks leave a school in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, on Tuesday. The city, which had the worst air quality in November among 74 major cities monitored, ordered classes suspended on Wednesday. Zhu Xingxin / China Daily

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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