Surgical masks compulsory for students and examiners in PSLE and GCE oral exams

A student taking an oral exam last year, when students were allowed to remove their face mask.
A student taking an oral exam last year, when students were allowed to remove their face mask.PHOTO: SINGAPORE EXAMINATIONS AND ASSESSMENT BOARD

SINGAPORE - All candidates and oral examiners will be required to wear surgical masks during the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) and Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education (GCE) oral examinations.

For candidates who do not have surgical masks, provisions will be made at the examination venue.

This is to minimise the risk of transmission in view of the more infectious variants of the Covid-19 virus, the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) said in a joint statement on Wednesday (June 23).

They noted that since June 1, more than 310,000 students – around 90 per cent of those eligible – have registered for their vaccination appointments. By this Sunday, about 297,000 would have taken their first dose before school reopens the next day. These figures are accurate as at 6pm on Tuesday.

The introduction of enhanced safe management measures for the upcoming national oral examinations is part of continued efforts to safeguard the safety and well-being of students and school staff.

The PSLE oral exams will be held on Aug 12 and 13, and the GCE oral exams will start from next month.

"As facial expressions will not be taken into consideration for the assessment, candidates will not be disadvantaged by the wearing of surgical masks during oral examinations," MOE and SEAB said.

Steps will be taken to ensure that oral examiners and candidates can hear each other clearly.

For example, before the start of the examination, oral examiners will ask each candidate to state his name and school loudly to ensure that they can hear each other clearly.

During the examination, candidates can ask oral examiners to repeat their questions or speak louder, and vice versa.

Oral examiners will also take the special circumstance of mask wearing into consideration when assessing candidates.

Other safe management measures will continue to be in place for this year's oral examinations, MOE and SEAB added.

These include temperature and symptom screening for entry into schools and examination venues, staggered dismissal of candidates, frequent cleaning of high touch surfaces, and using well-ventilated venues such as halls or classrooms for the examinations.

Candidates will not be allowed to sit the PSLE and GCE oral and listening comprehension examinations under certain circumstances, such as if they have Covid-19, or are placed on a quarantine order (QO) or stay-home notice, or have been issued leave of absence (LOA).

MOE and SEAB said that as the oral examinations are conducted over several days, candidates who miss them on their assigned date with valid reasons can take the examinations on another date within the examination window or sit a make-up examination.

The date of the make-up oral examination will be given to affected candidates.

These candidates can also apply for special consideration, which awards affected candidates with projected grades through an evidence-based and data-driven approach.

To support the well-being of Primary 6 pupils, MOE and SEAB will also remove the common last topics (CLT) for the PSLE this year.

These are a set of topics MOE has identified from the relevant subject syllabus that would be taught last by all schools for the graduating cohorts.

Generally, in the event of unforeseen circumstances impacting the completion of schools' teaching for the graduation cohorts, CLT can be removed from the scope covered in the national examinations.

Last year, CLTs were removed from the national examinations for graduating cohorts due to the impact of the extended circuit breaker period on curriculum time and on teaching and learning.

MOE and SEAB also announced that in-person co-curricular activities (CCA) will now resume from July 12, a week later than previously announced. This will be during the third week of Term 3 for secondary schools, junior colleges and Millennia Institute. 

In-person CCA for primary schools will resume in the fifth week of Term 3.

These measures are aligned with national guidelines, to safeguard the well-being of students and staff, said MOE and SEAB.

Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said in a Facebook post on Wednesday that he hopes these measures will give students and their parents greater peace of mind. 

“To our graduating cohorts: All the best in the preparation for your exams. Do remember to pace yourself and take the time for family, friends and other enjoyable pursuits in the upcoming months as well,” he added.