Ditch school uniforms during heatwave, says PAGE

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) hopes schools will consider allowing children to wear loose clothing like physical education, or uniformed body T-shirts to school, to stay cool during the heatwave.

Its chairman, Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim, said schools should also do away with asking prefects and librarians to use waistcoats, blazers, and ties.

She also said schools should reduce physical activities outside, and consider returning to online classes for extracurricular activities.

“The decision on school attire is made by principals and leaders sitting in air-conditioned offices,” said Noor Azimah.

“The reality is, kids are sitting in classrooms with fans – and not all of them are working. It can be stifling.

“The least we can do is to allow the children to wear loose-fitting attire like their sports clothing, or the T-shirts of their uniformed bodies, as those are cooler than the uniforms.

“Schools should also do away with waistcoats, blazers, and ties for their prefects and librarians, not just during the heatwave, but forever. They are not suitable for our weather.”

Noor Azimah was responding to the death of a 12-year-old boy in Kluang, Johor, on Monday, from suspected heat stroke-induced complications.

Last week, an 11-year-old boy in Kampung Perupok, Bachok, Kelantan, reportedly died from heatstroke.

Schools reopened today after the long Hari Raya holidays.

“It is sad to hear of young children dying from the heat wave,” said Noor Azimah.

“Schools should consider putting their extracurricular activities on hold, or holding them online, as we did during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Meanwhile, Malaysian Paediatric Association (MPA) president, Dr S. Selva Kumar, said besides loose clothing, parents and teachers must ensure that children were well-hydrated.

Dr Selva Kumar also urged parents to buy caps for their children.

“If schools have physical activities, they should consider doing so indoors,” said Dr Selva Kumar.

“However, even if there are no sports or exercise, the No. 1 rule is that everyone – children and adults – must drink lots of water.

“Avoid sugary beverages as these drinks may interfere with your body’s ability to control your temperature. Also, very cold drinks can cause stomach cramps.”

Dr Selva Kumar said schools should be surrounded by trees, as they provide shade.

“This should be the way future schools are designed.

“Schools should also have good ventilation to prevent diseases from spreading,“ he said.

Dr Selva Kumar said among the symptoms of heatstroke are:-

  • A high body temperature. A core body temperature of 40°C or higher, measured through a rectal thermometer, is the main sign of heatstroke.
  • Altered mental state or behaviour – confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, seizures, and coma can all result from heatstroke.
  • Alteration in sweating – in heatstroke caused by hot weather, your skin will feel hot and dry. However, in heatstroke brought on by strenuous exercise, your skin may feel dry or slightly moist.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Flushed skin – your skin may turn red as your body temperature increases.
  • Rapid breathing – your breathing may become rapid and shallow.
  • A very high heart rate.
  • Headaches.