The principal of Linqi's No.1 Middle School, surnamed Feng, made eighth grade students take a written test on the school's playground despite having received the red air pollution alert notice — the highest level smog warning — from the government on Monday.
He has since been suspended by the local education authority.
Feng told thepaper.cn that the smog was not severe, however pictures taken by a student's parent showed that visibility was very poor during the exam.
According to pictures published by the Henan-based Dahe Daily, the students were kneeling on the ground and using chairs as desks.
A student told a thepaper.cn reporter that the entire eighth grade took exams both in the morning and in the afternoon.
"The examination was not urgent and it is a routine assessment test after the courses," Feng told the thepaper.cn.
Feng didn't respond to questions about whether he is aware of the damage smog can cause to students' health.
Feng's handwritten statement on the situation said that he canceled the exams on Tuesday and there was only "light fog" on Monday.
At least 24 cities across China issued heavy smog alerts on Friday as wide swathes of the country are suffering from the worst air pollution levels in months.
This article originally appeared on the Global Times website