"The haze disaster has reached an emergency response level. Therefore, in order to safeguard the health of the students, we gave them a three-day off," Head of Payakumbuh City Governments Educational Affairs Hasan Basri informed reporters here, Tuesday.
Basri pointed out that the holiday period could be extended if the haze condition deteriorated.
"We are monitoring the situation until Thursday. If the smog condition worsens, we will extend the holiday period," he affirmed.
Prior to the decision, several heads of schools, including those from the early childhood education center (PAUD) and kindergartens, had requested the city governments permission to allow their students to stay at home, he remarked.
Speaking about the air quality in the city, Head of Payakumbuhs Environmental Affairs Syamsurial noted that the Pollution Standard Index (PSI) board revealed on Monday that the PSI reached a level of 190 mg/m3, or "unhealthy."
The ongoing forest and land fires have affected several provinces in Sumatra, including South Sumatra and Jambi, and have disrupted commercial flights at several main airports.
This ecological disaster remains an unsolved problem, though the country has had six presidents since the thick smog stemming from forest and land fires enveloped various parts of the Sumatra and Kalimantan islands in 1997 and 1998.
(Reported by MR Denya Utama/Uu.R013/INE/KR-BSR/A014)