THE haze or smog that blankets our nation has caused much inconvenience to many people.
Children, senior citizens and people with asthma and respiratory problems are falling ill due to the unhealthy pollutants in the air from forest fires in Indonesia.
Major airports in the country have been closed and it has affected the number of tourist arrivals into the country.
Schoolchildren in the haze-affected areas and states were given emergency holidays. In some areas, schools have been closed for three days at a stretch this week.
The state education director issues the “close school” order based on the Air Pollutant Index (API) readings.
Sometimes, the “close school” order is issued at the 11th hour at night, depending on the severity of the haze, and some parents are not aware of the order.
School teachers in affected schools are thus told to be in school to inform parents and children of the order.
Teachers in the affected schools are usually kept in the dark as to whether they are given the day off as well.
Most of the time, the “close school” order is vague and ambiguous. Teachers and non-academic staff are often unsure whether the order applies to them as well.
There was one occasion when the order was clear, and everyone, including teachers and the non-teaching staff, except for the security guards, were given the day off.
However, of late, the order has been vaguely worded, and this has put many teachers and non-teaching staff at loggerheads with their head teachers.
Some teachers are not too happy about having to come to school when children have been given the day off.
Some teachers feel that a “close school” order means that the children and teachers should be given the day off.
However, there have been occasions when head teachers are given the prerogative to call teachers to school during the days off unless it was specified that everyone was given a day off.
When they are asked to come to school by the head teachers, these teachers get angry and often have heated arguments with their heads.
Teachers must know that a “close school” order generally means that children do not need to go to school but teachers can be requested to go to school unless it is stated otherwise.
The “close school” order is generally for children. Head teachers can call teachers to schools, and the latter have to abide by these orders.
Even so, directives should be clear. It should state whether the order applies to the teachers and the non-teaching staff in school.
n SAMUEL YESUIAH, Seremban, Negri Sembilan