Smog red alerts for 23 cities were issued; the smog readings for this year are more than 30 times above the safe limits. Seventy-one cities in China have been affected, according to the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
But for Linqi No. 1 Middle School based in the Chinese province of Henan, calling children in to take an exam was more important than their health and safety. The school made more than 400 students sit for an exam in an open playground despite the heavy fog.
Outdoor testing is common in China to prevent cheating, but in this case students were sitting outdoors covered with cold, dangerous smog.
Images of the smog-shrouded testing spread across the internet and caused outrage. The haze was so intense that the students sitting at the back of the playground were not even visible in the pictures.
“On a day like that, would teachers be able to spot if students brought cheat sheets?” asked one user on Sina Weibo, a popular Chinese site.
“China needs this kind of behavior, right? Because gross domestic product is more important than ordinary folks’ health,” another user commented.
When the Chinese media asked the school’s headmaster, Feng Jisheng about the test, he said, “All the organization had been done. So we went ahead with the exam.”
“At the time, the smog wasn’t bad.”
According to reports, the headmaster was suspended for making students go through this awful ordeal.