An investigation has been launched in China after pupils suffered frostbite after they were forced to take classes outside in freezing conditions, reports said.
The seven-year-old children were reportedly told to run on the spot if they became too cold during lessons held on school playgrounds at temperatures of 0C (32F).
The pupils were from 11 schools in northern China’s Hebei province where there was no indoor heating.
The heating systems were not working as teachers had experienced delays in swapping coal heaters for electric ones as part of a nation-wide clean energy drive.
A local parent told the China Youth Daily newspaper that schools had still not made the switch almost three weeks after the start of Hebei’s notoriously cold winter.
“It was better that the pupils stayed outside in the sparse sunlight than in the cold classrooms,” the parent said.
A teacher at the local Xiaokoutou school told the newspaper: “When the cold becomes unbearable, I get the children to run around the playground to help them stay warm.”
Officials in Quyang County, where the schools are based, have dispatched “inspection teams” to investigate the situation and ensure heating returns to the schools this week.
Reports said some of the schools had already dismantled their traditional coal stoves and chimneys, but were not able to set up their new electric heating facilities.
A headmaster was suspended in China last year after more than 400 pupils were forced to sit an exam in an outdoor playground during toxic pollution.
At the time, China was experiencing its most severe “airpocalypse” of the year, with smog readings more than 30 times above safe limits.