PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Schools in Jerantut and Temerloh in Pahang and Perlis will be closed on Monday (April 11) as temperatures in those areas have exceeded 37 deg C over a 72-hour period, said Malaysia's Education Ministry.
In a statement, the ministry said that the closure was a precautionary measure to safeguard the health of the more than 100,000 pre-school, primary and secondary pupils in the states.
However, the ministry said that only pupils would be excused from attending classes, with no replacement school day required, but staff would still have to be in school to carry out other duties that do not involve teaching.
The ministry also directed the Perlis and Pahang education departments to ensure that the directive was adhered to, and also sought the cooperation of parents to monitor their children's activity during the ongoing heatwave.
The closure involves 259 schools (68 secondary and 191 primary) in all three areas with 97,533 pupils (91,862 secondary and primary, and 5,671 pre-school).
The ministry also asked parents to monitor the movement and activities of their children during the closure.
Meanwhile, Meteorological Department director-general Che Gayah Ismail said more showers and thunderstorms are forecast to cool down the current heatwave that has seen the mercury rising in various parts of the country - at least until the end of next month.
She said the country had already entered the inter-monsoon season with more rains and thunderstorms in the afternoons, especially over the west coast states of the peninsula.
"The inter-monsoon season is expected to last until mid or the end of May," she said on Sunday.
For this month, areas in Perlis, Kedah, Penang, north of Perak, Kelantan and the north of Terengganu are expected to experience slightly below average rainfall.
All other places in peninsular Malaysia are expected to see normal average rainfall throughout the whole month.
The average rainfall for the peninsula is expected to be between 100mm and 250mm, and between 100mm and 450mm for Sabah and Sarawak.
Datuk Che Gayah said the country would be experiencing the south-west monsoon, which is the dry season, from June until September.
This is also the time when transboundary haze from Indonesia is likely to recur.
As at 1pm on Sunday, Ipoh and Chuping both recorded 36 deg C, followed by Prai and Alor Setar at 35 deg C, and Malacca, Kota Kinabalu and Senai at 34 deg C.
The water levels at three major dams - Padang Saga in Kedah, Bukit Kwong in Kelantan and Bukit Merah in Perak - have also recorded a drop to below the half-way mark.
Seberang Prai Tengah in Penang holds the record of not having any rain for 41 days, followed by Bahagian Kudat (Langkorn estate) in Sabah with 27 days.