SINGAPORE - Around 120,000 students this year will be sitting the year-end national examinations amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
To guard against disruptions and infections, students who display symptoms close to their exam dates will not be allowed to enter the examination venue pending their swab results.
This is among a series of measures the Ministry of Education (MOE) has introduced to ensure the exams can take place.
Q: How and where can students get tested for Covid-19?
A: A graduating student who is unwell should see a doctor at a general practitioner (GP) clinic participating in the Swab-and-Send-Home (Sash) initiative, or polyclinic.
They should do so especially if they have respiratory symptoms such as runny nose, cough or sore throat, or have a fever.
If diagnosed by the doctor to have an acute respiratory infection, the student will be required to be tested for Covid-19.
PSLE pupils who display symptoms close to the examination date, from Sept 28 onwards, as well as during the examination itself, should seek medical attention at KK Women's and Children's Hospital.
This is to ensure timely diagnosis and notification of results should they be diagnosed with acute respiratory infection and require Covid-19 testing.
For students taking the N, O or A levels who display symptoms four days before the start of their respective examination, they should seek medical attention at polyclinics.
While awaiting notification of the Covid-19 swab test results, students must stay home and will not be allowed to enter the examination venue.
Students aged 16 years and younger should be accompanied by an adult for the swab test - for consent-taking and communication to both the student and adult on the precautions to take note of while awaiting the test results at home.
Q: As national examinations are essential for progression, can special provisions or alternative arrangements be made, such as online invigilation for candidates who are confirmed cases or who are on stay-home notice (SHN) and home quarantine order?
A: There are no plans for online invigilation arrangements, which involves candidates taking examinations at home.
This is because the fairness and integrity of the national examinations may be compromised.
There are also challenges in the management and provision of resources for online invigilation, given that it involves the administration of the exams in individual homes.
Q: What happens if there is a confirmed case in a school during the national examinations?
A: If there is a confirmed case, all close contacts of the case will be identified, and schools may suspend classes and activities for disinfection and deep cleaning of affected areas, as well as for contact tracing investigations to be completed.
Special consideration will be applied for affected students to ensure that they are not disadvantaged for the national examinations.
Students who are unaffected will either continue to take their examinations in another classroom block within the school, or in an examination venue managed by the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB).
Q: What provisions are there for students who miss the national examinations?
A: Students who miss the national examinations with valid reasons can apply for special consideration in the grading.
In awarding a grade, SEAB will refer to the student's performance in the subject in the other national and school-based exams, as well as the student's relative performance to his schoolmates in the same year in the national and school-based exams.
Each case will be subjected to a rigorous review process.
Q: Will the year-end national examinations be called off or postponed if Singapore enters another circuit breaker, or if the Covid-19 situation worsens?
A: The national examinations are important milestones that affect candidates' progression.
Postponing or cancelling the examinations would be a last resort. Should the Covid-19 situation worsen considerably and it is necessary to enter another circuit breaker, the MOE and SEAB will review plans in tandem with the national posture.
Q: Will special arrangements be made for candidates taking the year-end science practical examinations as well? How will the safe management measures look like?
A: The same arrangements will apply for the year-end science practical examinations.
Candidates who are confirmed cases of Covid-19 infection or on quarantine order, SHN or leave of absence (LOA) due to close contact with confirmed Covid-19 cases will not be allowed to sit the practical examinations.
Candidates who had travelled out of Singapore for compassionate reasons and were placed on SHN will also not be allowed to sit the examinations.
This is because the conduct of the science practical examinations requires unique equipment and logistics, such as a science laboratory. Candidates who miss the examinations can apply for special consideration.
Similarly, candidates on LOA as a result of staying in the same household with individuals on home quarantine order or those diagnosed with acute respiratory infection will be allowed to sit the science practical examinations if they test negative for Covid-19.
Similar safe management measures will be implemented for the practical examinations.
These candidates will take their science practical examinations in the last shift and will be assigned to a separate laboratory with a cap of 10 candidates per science laboratory (instead of 20). They will be seated 3m apart.
The arrival and dismissal times will be staggered to reduce intermingling between different groups of candidates.