PSLE and O, N, A levels to proceed with special safety measures in place

Infected students and those on quarantine orders or SHN won't be allowed to sit exams

Pupils in a class that practises safe management measures at Jing Shan Primary School on May 27. Safe management measures will continue to be implemented in schools and examination venues during the national examinations. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Pupils in a class that practises safe management measures at Jing Shan Primary School on May 27. Safe management measures will continue to be implemented in schools and examination venues during the national examinations. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

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 (QO) or stay-home notices (SHN) will not be allowed to sit the examinations.

This is to ensure they do not pose a risk to others, the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) said yesterday.

Exceptions, though, will be made on a case-by-case basis for students who were put on stay-home notices for making a trip for compassionate reasons, such as travelling out of Singapore to attend a funeral.

But these students will take their examinations in a centralised venue managed by the exams board and seated individually in a room.

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 examination room.

To further minimise the risk of transmission, these students must take their own private vehicles or pre-booked taxis to the examination venue as they are not allowed to take public transport.

Students who are on leave of absence (LOA) due to close con-tact with confirmed cases will also not be allowed to take the examinations.

Meanwhile, those who are on LOA, as a result of staying in the same household with individuals on home quarantine orders (HQO), will be allowed to sit the examinations 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 (ARI) will be allowed to sit the examinations if they test negative for Covid-19.

The MOE and SEAB said that candidates 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 examinations, as well as the student's performance relative to his schoolmates in the same year in the national and school-based examinations.

 
 
 
 

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

The MOE and SEAB said that as the national year-end written examinations are important milestones that affect students' progression, it wants to make sure that as many students as possible are given the opportunity to take the examinations, while making it safe for their schoolmates and invigilators.

In all, around 120,000 students will take the four national examinations 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 exams with valid reasons related to Covid-19 or not related to Covid-19, again, I want to assure students 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 assured students and their parents that for those who miss the exams, the board will use "multiple sources of information to make sure that candidates are given a fair grade".

Safe management measures will continue to be implemented in schools and examination venues during the national examinations.

These include testing all PSLE candidates, who show the first signs of ARI, for Covid-19 before and during the examination period. This provision will kick in from Sept 17, some 14 days be-fore the start of the PSLE written examinations.

MOE has also encouraged schools to implement a study break prior to the national examinations to minimise the risk of a large number of students being quarantined or put on LOA due to Covid-19 cases which may occur in schools.

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

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

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2020, with the headline 'PSLE and O, N, A levels to proceed with special safety measures in place'. Subscribe