Parents hope haze won't affect start of PSLE tomorrow

Students taking precautionary measures by wearing masks as hazy skies returned after a temporary respite over the weekend, as schools across Singapore reopened on Sept 28, 2015.
Students taking precautionary measures by wearing masks as hazy skies returned after a temporary respite over the weekend, as schools across Singapore reopened on Sept 28, 2015.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

While kids' health comes first, parents polled worry that a postponement will be disruptive

Parents whose children are taking the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) tomorrow are hoping that the haze will not affect it.

Ten parents spoken to said the pupils' health should be the top priority, and that they would understand if the exam had to be postponed by a few days.

However, they also said the delay would be disruptive for their children, who have already made their preparations in the past few weeks and months for the PSLE.

Last Friday, Senior Minister of State for Education Indranee Rajah told reporters at the Tanjong Pagar Community Club that the PSLE, like other national exams, may be rescheduled if the air quality looked like it would reach very unhealthy or hazardous levels.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) decided in an unprecedented move last Thursday night to close schools the next day as the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) levels reached just under 300 - above which air quality is considered hazardous.

KIDS ALL SET FOR EXAM

I'd prefer if the PSLE just went ahead because this haze looks like it will last quite a while. The children have been preparing and looking forward to the first day, so it's very disruptive if it's postponed.

MADAM JASMINE GOH, 44, whose daughter will be taking the PSLE

Schools across Singapore reopened this week, but have since put precautionary measures in place should the air quality deteriorate further.

They are equipped with air purifiers, and some have said that they have moved their classes to air-conditioned rooms.

Most schools have also minimised their outdoor activities and moved physical education lessons indoors.

More than 100 students who were due to take the O-level Music and Higher Music practical exams last Friday took them yesterday instead.

The PSLE is scheduled to start tomorrow and end next Tuesday.

Ms Joyce Wong, 41, a part-time piano teacher whose daughter has been preparing for the exam, said: "Already the kids feel a lot of tension and we can't wait to get over this period, but if it is really unsafe, then there's no choice.

"Even if schools can make alternative arrangements, I don't know if all schools have enough air-conditioned rooms to hold the children."

Ms Raquel Mahendran, 43, whose son will be taking the exam, said it may be tough to "regain the momentum" if the exam is suddenly delayed.

The MOE had said last week that contingency plans for national exams are in place should haze conditions remain unhealthy or worsen.

All schools have enclosed spaces for candidates to take their exams, and schools will also be provided with air purifiers so that exams are not disrupted.

Madam Abdoul Rahime Mahabouby, 42, whose son will be taking the exam, said: "Most parents just want to finish the PSLE as their kids are fully prepared at this stage."

"But if the air is hazardous, the exam should be delayed because children could get health problems such as itchy eyes and throats," said the housewife.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 30, 2015, with the headline 'Parents hope haze won't affect start of PSLE tomorrow'. Print Edition | Subscribe