March 21, 2016 – Malaysia’s Minister for Education Mahdzir Khalid announced today that schools in the northern states of Kedah and Perlis will close for two days on Tuesday and Wednesday due to a searing heatwave.
Both states are up north, along the Malaysia-Thailand border and temperatures have soared to the high 30s there, which is sizzling for a country that usually has an average temperature of 27°C.
The heat has been blamed largely on El Niño , which happens when sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean become warmer than usual, causing a shift in atmospheric circulation.
Last week the Minister for Natural Resources and Environment announced guidelines that schools could be closed if temperatures exceeded 37°C for more than 72 hours.
Mr Khalid said his ministry will decide on Wednesday whether to extend school closures in Perlis and Kedah beyond the two days. Though there are some concerns about kids ‘missing too many days of schools , many parents would rather have their children keeping cool at home indoors rather than heading outdoors to get to school.
The government says the last time Malaysia experienced prolonged heat at these temperatures was almost a decade ago in the late 1990s. A heatwave emergency can now be declared if temperatures remain at 40°C for seven days or longer.