National exams, including PSLE and O levels, will proceed but with Covid-19 special arrangements

Students who have the Covid-19 virus and those on quarantine orders or stay-home notices will not be allowed to sit the exams. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The four national examinations - the PSLE, N levels, O levels and A levels - will go on as scheduled from Sept 14 to Dec 2, but there will be special arrangements made to ensure that students and invigilators remain safe from the Covid-19 virus.

For one thing, students who have the virus and those on quarantine orders or stay-home notices (SHN) will not be allowed to sit the exams. This is to ensure that they do not pose a risk to others, said the Education Ministry and the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) on Friday (Aug 21).

Exceptions, though, can be made on a case-by-case basis for students under SHN for compassionate reasons, such as travelling out of Singapore to attend a funeral. But these students will take their exams in a centralised venue managed by the exams board and be seated individually in separate rooms.

To ensure that these students do not mingle with the other candidates, they will have designated toilets. There will also be separate entry and exit routes for each exam room. To further minimise the risk of transmission, these students must take their own private vehicles or pre-booked taxis to the exam venue, as they are not allowed to take public transport.

Students who are on leave of absence (LOA), due to close contact with confirmed cases, will also not be allowed to take the exams.

Meanwhile, those who are on LOA, as a result of staying in the same household with individuals on home quarantine orders, will be allowed to sit the exams only if they test negative for Covid-19. Arrangements will be made for these candidates to be tested and the costs of the test will be borne by the Government.

Similarly, those who are on medical leave due to acute respiratory infection will be allowed to sit the exams if they test negative for Covid-19.

The MOE and SEAB said that candidates who miss the national exams with valid reasons can apply for special consideration in the grading.

In awarding a grade, the 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.

The officials said all special consideration applications will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and subjected to a rigorous review process.

The MOE and SEAB said that as the national year-end written exams are important milestones that affect a student's progression, they want to make sure that as many students as possible are given the opportunity to take the exams, while keeping their schoolmates and invigilators safe. In all, around 120,000 students will take the four national exams this year.

Said Mr Wong Siew Hoong, MOE's director-general of education: "The national examinations are an integral part of teaching and learning, and the results of these examinations are important for the progression of the students to their next phase of their educational journey. So it is important that we are able to conduct the exams, and to conduct them safely.

"In the event that they cannot sit the exams with valid reasons related to Covid-19 or not related to Covid-19, again I want to assure them that there are processes in place to be able to help (them) with the projected grade."

Mr Yue Lip Sin, chief executive of SEAB, also told students and parents not to worry.

"They can apply for special considerations, which is a post-examination adjustment of marks. What we will do is consider multiple sources of information to make sure that these candidates are not affected and will be given a fair grade," he said.

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Safe management measures will continue to be implemented in schools and exam venues during the conduct of the national exams.

These include testing all Primay School Leaving Examination candidates who show the first signs of acute respiratory infection for Covid-19 before and during the exam period. This provision will kick in from Sept 17, some 14 days before the start of the PSLE written exams.

The MOE and SEAB said they will continue to monitor the Covid-19 situation closely and provide updates if there are any changes to the exam arrangements.

"We urge all candidates and staff to continue practising good personal hygiene and exercise social responsibility," they said.

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