Update: The Education Ministry ordered all “affected” education institutions, private and public, closed through Friday in Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Nakhon Pathom, Samut Prakan and Samut Sakhon provinces. Students in some grades with exams this weekend may still have class.
BANGKOK — Students will be dismissed from all public schools at noon and classes canceled through Friday as air pollution continues unabated, the governor said Wednesday.
Classes at 437 public schools were canceled out of concern the heavy smog could impact student health, according to Gov. Aswin Kwanmuang. Officials said the pollution in the capital this morning exceeded acceptable levels in 39 areas, with the highest density near Rama II Road in Samut Sakhon at up to 145 micrograms per cubic meter.
State weather forecasters said the lack of wind and higher air pressure has aggravated the situation, which is likely to persist at current unhealthy levels until next Monday at the earliest.
Aswin said the forecast led to the decision to close schools temporarily because “children might be harmed” by the pollution.
Officials said canceling classes at universities will be voluntary. Thammasat University and Suan Dusit Rajabhat University canceled classes tomorrow and Friday.
Public frustration continues to grow as officials have scrambled to address the surging pollution since last month without any concrete results. Among those efforts are spraying water into the air, washing streets and halting rail construction.
On Twitter, #UltrafineParticles was the No. 2 top-trending hashtag as of noon.
The government has come in for harsh criticism for ineffectively handling the problem.
Aswin today outlined additional measures unlikely to impress the public, including deploying 50 drones to spray water and installing more pollution detectors in public areas.
He said factory operating hours would be limited, but fell short of promising stricter law enforcement in favor of voluntary measures.
“We’ll ask for cooperation,” he said. “Everyone has to help each other.”
He also said City Hall is considering ways to designate certain areas subject to controls on traffic, construction and open-air burning.