Half 1,000,000 South Korean college students sit a school entrance examination regardless of rising Covid circumstances

Half a million South Korean students sit a college entrance exam despite rising Covid cases

The assessments are so vital that, in regular years, the nation rolls out excessive measures to help college students — workplace hours are modified to clear roads to keep away from college students getting caught in site visitors and flights are rescheduled to forestall the sound of aircraft engines disrupting the English listening check.

But this yr, even higher planning has been required, as South Korea makes an attempt to carry the exams whereas preserving youngsters secure from coronavirus. Students may have their temperature checked earlier than getting into the testing services and might want to put on masks all through the examination.

Arrangements have been even made for 3,775 college students to take the check from quarantine, and for the 35 college students who examined constructive for Covid-19 of Tuesday to take a seat the examination from a hospital mattress.

The exams assist determine whether or not college students will make it into probably the most prestigious faculties and what profession path they will take — some choices, similar to drugs, will probably be shut off to college students who do not get a high-enough rating.

“Every citizen understands the exam to be a major national event,” Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae instructed Source in an unique interview forward of the check.

South Korea has been comparatively profitable as controlling its Covid-19 outbreak, with greater than 35,000 reported circumstances and 529 deaths.

But as college students ready for the largest check of their high-school profession, the nation has been hit by a 3rd wave of circumstances, significantly in metropolitan Seoul, the place half the nation’s inhabitants lives. Every week earlier than the examination, Yoo ordered excessive faculties throughout the nation to close and swap to on-line lessons.

What it is like doing an examination throughout coronavirus

That South Korea can maintain its school placement assessments in any respect is outstanding — and is right down to cautious planning by authorities.

Other nations have been pressured to cancel or postpone exams because of coronavirus — the US College Board, as an example, canceled the SATs that have been because of be held in May, citing student safety. The United Kingdom canceled A-levels, which decide college entrance, and college students obtained the grades their lecturers predicted for them.

But it is hardly examination season as regular in South Korea.

Normally, nervous mother and father cheer their youngsters on as they enter the testing facilities, however this yr, Seoul authorities instructed mother and father to chorus from cheering or ready outdoors the college gate on the day of the examination. Teenagers have their temperature taken earlier than getting into the testing middle, and should put on a masks through the check. Anyone who confirmed signal of sickness should sit the check in a separate room the place invigilators put on full hazmat fits.

Students have been separated by dividers as they sat their check, and the federal government established air flow pointers for examination rooms. Students have been prevented from utilizing cafeteria or ready halls to attenuate contact.

Public well being clinics carried out assessments till 10 p.m. the day earlier than the examination, to encourage college students to get identified if that they had signs. Covid assessments for college students have been prioritized. One highschool trainer in Daejeon, a metropolis south of Seoul, examined constructive round 9.30 p.m. Wednesday. After one among his shut contacts examined constructive, dozens of examination employees have been substituted for reserve workers.

For college students taking the examination, these measures made an already tough examination extra demanding. Seoul scholar Hwang Yoon-jae, who was taking the examination for a second time after graduating the yr earlier than, stated he had been finding out near 15 hours a day, together with over weekends, for months.

“I’m more worried (this year) because we need to take the exam in much worse condition,” he stated. “We need to wear masks, and there is a plastic divider on the desk.”

What is the danger?

Authorities are taking extra measures for a easy motive: they’re determined to forestall an exam-related outbreak.

Unlike earlier outbreaks, the third wave has been spreading amongst youthful individuals, in line with Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency. And after Thursday’s examination, some college students will journey throughout the nation to take a seat extra exams held by faculties.

“While we had thoroughly prepared, I’m afraid of the rare scenario where an undetected patient is found among the exam takers and begin a community spread,” Education Minister Yoo stated. “We are doing all we can to prevent such a scenario.”

But for individuals, the danger was too nice.

In current weeks, some 6,000 individuals signed an internet petition calling for the examination to be postponed by two weeks. The petition stated holding the examination now was “like throwing students into a pit of fire” and questioned whether or not education is extra essential than youngsters’s well being.

A father hugs on her daughter taking the college entrance exam amid the coronavirus pandemic on December 3, 2020 in Seoul, South Korea.

In on-line communities the place highschool seniors share examination ideas, many college students stated they have been nervous that in the event that they caught Covid through the examination they could possibly be pressured to quarantine, which means they could miss the extra school exams the next week.

But President Moon Jae-in’s authorities was adamant that the examination should proceed.

“If we safely hold the exam in such difficult times without excluding those infected and quarantined, the superiority of K-quarantine will shine even brighter,” Moon stated in a tweet this week.
Yoo additionally identified that the examination had already been postponed by two weeks as soon as earlier than. She additionally stated that South Korea had efficiently held a normal election in April throughout coronavirus, an election that noticed Moon’s celebration reelected in a landslide — and attracted the best turnout in nearly 30 years.

Although Na Yeong-seo, a highschool senior within the satellite tv for pc metropolis outdoors of Seoul, stated the masks she needed to put on and enormous divider put in on her desk would make it tough to pay attention, she was extra nervous in regards to the uncertainty introduced by the pandemic, given the check has already been pushed again as soon as.

“To be honest, I would like to finish the exam as quickly as possible. Of course, it will be dangerous, she said. “The steady delay and the next limitless finding out could be very arduous for me. I would like it to finish quickly.”

Despite the Covid-19 risk, Hwang, the Seoul student, said he wasn’t that concerned about being infected.

“I believe any scholar could be extra involved about getting a nasty outcome on the examination than catching Covid,” he said.

CNN’s Gawon Bae, Son So-mi and Joh Yun-ji contributed reporting from Seoul.

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