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Some students on leave of absence may sit for year-end exams if tested negative regularly for COVID-19

Some students on leave of absence may sit for year-end exams if tested negative regularly for COVID-19

Students wearing protective face masks attend a class at Yio Chu Kang Secondary School. (File photo: Reuters/Edgar Su)

SINGAPORE: Students who are on leave of absence and not waiting to be issued a quarantine order will be allowed to sit for the national year-end exams if they regularly test negative for COVID-19. 

These students will self-test for the coronavirus every two days at their schools or examination venues from their first day of exams until their leave of absence is rescinded, said the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) on Saturday (Aug 28).

The antigen rapid tests will be done by the students themselves and supervised by trained staff. 

Students who are on leave of absence and are pending issuance of a quarantine order due to close contact with a confirmed case, however, will not be allowed to sit for the exams, said MOE and SEAB. 

“The national year-end written examinations are important for students’ educational progression,” they said in the press release. 

“To enable as many candidates as possible to sit for the examinations while ensuring that the examinations are conducted safely, MOE and SEAB are updating the arrangements to include the use of antigen rapid tests and polymerase chain reaction for affected candidates." 

The national year-end written examinations for key subjects will begin on Sep 15.

Summary of arrangements for the 2021 national year-end written examinations. (Table: MOE, SEAB)

Similar to last year’s national year-end written examinations, candidates who are tested positive for COVID-19, placed on quarantine order or stay-home notice, will not be allowed to sit for the exams. 

“This is in line with the national measures where such persons are not allowed to leave home or their respective facilities,” said MOE and SEAB. 

Currently, MOE issues leave of absence and approved absence to students and staff by requiring those who might have been exposed to the virus to stay away from school campuses to limit COVID-19 transmission. 

Students placed on approved absence because of staying in the same household with members (aged 6 and above) who have flu-like symptoms and have yet to receive a negative polymerase chain reaction test outcome, will be allowed to sit for the examinations with a one-time antigen rapid tests and if they test negative. 

“They can do a self-swab with antigen rapid tests test kits at home and inform their schools of the outcome before their examination,” said MOE and SEAB. 

Those on approved absence due to being placed on the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) mandatory testing regime or Health Risk Warning alert must complete their MOH-mandated entry polymerase chain reaction test and test negative before they can sit for their examinations. 

Students taking PSLE who are required to be tested for COVID-19 at their schools or exam venues should be accompanied by their parent or guardian who can help administer the test “in view of their younger age”, said MOE and SEAB.

Alternatively, parents may also give consent for their child to do a supervised self-administered test at the venue. 

STUDENTS ON MEDICAL LEAVE MAY SIT FOR EXAMS IF TESTED NEGATIVE 

Candidates who are on medical leave due to acute respiratory infection must have recovered and tested negative for polymerase chain reaction if they wish to sit for the examinations, said MOE and SEAB.

Those with acute respiratory infection symptoms should seek medical attention early and visit https://flu.gowhere.gov.sg/ to locate a Public Health Preparedness Clinic (PHPC) at offering Government-funded polymerase chain reaction tests. 

Parents of students below the age of 13 may also check the website to locate a Swab-and-Send-Home clinic that offers Government-funded polymerase chain reaction swabs for children. 

MOE and SEAB added that those on medical leave due to fever will be allowed to sit for the examinations if they no longer have a fever, and are tested negative after a one-time antigen rapid tests. 

They can do a self-swab with antigen rapid tests kits at home and inform their schools on the outcome before their examination.

In the release, MOE and SEAB said that students who miss the exams with valid reasons can apply for special consideration. 

“In awarding a grade for these affected candidates, SEAB will consider multiple sources of evidence, such as the candidate’s performance in the other papers and the school cohort's performance in national and school-based examinations for the affected subject, to ensure a fair assessment.

“All special consideration applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis and subjected to a rigorous review process,” they added. 

SAFE MANAGEMENT MEASURES REMAIN

Candidates on leave of absence or approved absence who are allowed to sit for the exams will do so in their schools or examination venues, but in a separate room from the other candidates, said MOE and SEAB. 

Enhanced safe management measures such as a spacing of at least 3m between candidates and a cap of 10 candidates per examination room, will be applied. 

Other safety measures for the other students include temperature taking and visual screening of all candidates, wearing of surgical masks or reusable mask during the exams, as well as staggered dismissal timings and segregated entry and exit routes.

For exams conducted in school halls, areas will be zoned with a maximum of 50 candidates in each zone, and up to 250 candidates per venue. 

There will also be a separation of at least 3m between zones. Within each zone, candidates will be seated at least 1.5m apart.

For exams conducted in classrooms, there will be a maximum of 30 candidates in each classroom and they will be seated at least 1.5m apart.

Similar to last year’s arrangements, schools will be implementing a “study break” for graduating ahead of the exams.

This is to minimise the risk of school-based transmissions and reduce the number of students placed on quarantine order or leave of absence, said MOE and SEAB. 

Duration of study break for graduating cohorts. (Table: MOE, SEAB)

During the study break, students are strongly encouraged to remain at home to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19. 

“Schools will remain open for students who require additional support, including those whose home environments may not be conducive for studying,” said MOE and SEAB. 

Teachers will also be present to guide students in their learning, with the necessary safe management measures in place.

Parents of primary school students who cannot work from home, or who are unable to secure alternative care arrangements, may also approach their children’s schools for assistance. 

MOE and SEAB added that they will monitor the COVID-19 situation and provide timely updates if there are further changes to the examination arrangements. 

“We urge all candidates and staff to continue practising good personal hygiene, adhere to safe management measures, and exercise social responsibility,” they said. 

Source: CNA/ad

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