After photos went viral yesterday showing students taking an exam outside in heavy smog, a Henan middle school principal has been suspended from his post.
The photos were snapped by one concerned party and sent to local media. They immediately caused a massive uproar to erupt on Chinese social media with netizens calling for the principal to be fired for endangering the students’ health.
The education commission for Anyang prefecture has found that that Feng Jisheng, the head teacher at No. 1 Middle School in Linqi town, failed to heed official requests for all primary and middle school to suspend classes on Monday due to severe air pollution.
Instead, 480 students were made to sit outside on the school’s athletic field and take an exam for at least 4 hours, even as the AQI reached above 500, a “hazardous” level of air pollution which authorities recommend not stepping foot outside in unnecessarily.
For this, the education commission has suspended Feng from his post while it investigates the matter further. However, it’s not likely that he will lose his job over the incident.
“I think he made the decision to go ahead with the exam as planned because, after all, improving scores is important for Chinese students,” said Liang Dawei, director of publicity of Linzhou county.
When confronted yesterday by a reporter about the incident, Feng claimed that while it was quite “hazy” at the time, the smog was not so “severe.” Later, when he received a notification from the local board of education about canceling classes, the exams were called off, he said.
Liang said notices about pollution warnings were sent out to schools via telephone, fax and WeChat, so it was unlikely that he had missed the morning announcement.
Elsewhere in China, teachers worked around the airpocalypse by live-streaming lessons in an empty classroom to students watching from the relative safety of their own homes.
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