Despite the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) of the haze lingering at the high end of the unhealthy range, some 40,000 students across Singapore took their first paper of the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) on 1 Oct.
The Primary 6 pupils took the English language paper in the morning, many of them in classrooms with air purifiers and air-conditioned halls. The 24-hour PSI at 7am was in the unhealthy zone, ranging from 152 to 195 across various parts of Singapore.
In a joint statement last night (1 Oct), the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) said that
The “safety and well-being of all examination candidates remain our top priority”, and that “schools have made arrangements for all national examinations candidates to take their papers in enclosed spaces”.
MOE and SEAB also assured students that they will not be penalised or disadvantaged if they were “unable to take or complete the examinations due to haze or other medical conditions”.
Earlier, there were concerns that the PSLE would be delayed if the haze worsens. Schools were closed last Friday (25 Sep) as a precaution due to the 24-hour PSI being at near hazardous levels. They reopened on Monday with schools taking measures should the air quality deteriorate.
The haze is expected to worsen today and even hit the high end of the very unhealthy range, or a 24-hour PSI range of 201 to 300, if denser haze is blown in.
Principals said the first day of the PSLE went smoothly. White Sands Primary principal Ng Teng Joo said no pupil was unwell or absent at his school for the PSLE exam because of the haze, while Corporation Primary School principal Madam Vimi D. Sambwani said invigilators checked pupils’ medical conditions before the exam started and were alert throughout.
Madam Zalina Ibrahim, a housewife with a Primary 6 son in Yumin Primary School, said “I believe schools have measures to protect the kids. Their health cannot be compromised even in a national exam.”
Housewife Julia Wee, with a Primary 6 daughter in Raffles Girls’ Primary School, said “It’s good that teachers have been keeping us updated regularly about precautionary measures and any changes because of the haze.”
Hazy conditions started in mid-August and may stay until November due to the seasonally dry weather from the El Nino effect.
In the coming two weeks, air conditions could remain poor with lower than average rainfall. NEA, in a separate advisory, said that four to six days of short thundery showers and one or two days of thundery showers with gusty winds are expected, adding that rainfall is likely to be below normal.
How can schools take precautions against the haze? Share your thoughts with us!
Sources: “PSLE off to smooth start despite 'unhealthy' air quality”, (The Straits Times, 2 October 2015) and “Haze expected to worsen today”, (The Straits Times, 2 October 2015)