Chinese students take gruelling university entrance exam after Covid-19 wait

A group of students after their first day of exams in Beijing on July 7, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (REUTERS) - Nearly 11 million high school students sat for China's annual "gaokao" university entrance exam on Tuesday (July 7), after a month's delay due to the coronavirus outbreak, state media reported.

Much of China typically shuts down during the exam, with drivers banned from honking their horns, and police on patrol to make sure students are not disturbed.

In Beijing, exam centres have set up body temperature checkpoints and require students to wear face masks.

The city has been trying to quash an outbreak traced to a wholesale market early last month and reported no confirmed cases on Tuesday.

High school students have taken online classes since early February due to the virus, which some said reduced communication with teachers and peers. The exam delay, they said, prolonged the pressure.

"We had been preparing for the June exam, then suddenly there's another extra month. I was not prepared for the change.I almost felt like I couldn't make it," said an 18-year-old surnamed Jiang.

Parents likewise have been feeling the pressure. Large groups waited outside the venue as the students took the exam.

"Teachers have given them a pile of studying materials,"said a parent surnamed Wang. "My printer almost broke down."

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