The tests are so significant that, in normal years, the country takes drastic measures to support students – office hours are transformed into clear roads to avoid students getting stuck in traffic, and airplanes are modified to prevent English from being disturbed. Asking test.
But this year, even bigger planning is needed because South Korea is trying to hold elections while keeping young people safe from the corona virus. Students should check the temperature and wear masks throughout the exam before entering the test facilities.
Arrangements were made for 3,775 students to take tests from isolation and for 35 students who tested positive for Govt-19 as of Tuesday to sit for the exam from a hospital bed.
Exams help students determine whether they will make it to more prestigious colleges and what career path they can take – some options, such as medicine, will be discontinued for students who do not score high.
“Every citizen understands the exam as a major national event,” Education Minister Yoon Yoon-hee told CNN in an exclusive interview.
South Korea has been relatively successful in controlling its Govt-19 eruption, with more than 35,000 cases and 529 deaths.
But as students prepare for the biggest test of their high school life, the country has been hit by a third wave of lawsuits, especially in the metropolitan city of Seoul, where half the country’s population lives. A week before the exam, Yu ordered the closure of high schools across the country and switching to online classes.
What’s like doing a test during a corona virus
It is noteworthy that South Korea is able to conduct its college placement tests – and it is below for careful planning by the authorities.
But this is not the exam period as usual in South Korea.
Normally, anxious parents cheer their children on when they enter checkpoints, but this year, Seoul officials told parents not to cheer or wait outside the school gate on exam day. Anyone who showed signs of illness was ordered to sit in a separate room for testing, where invigilators wore full hazmat cases.
Students were segregated by class as they sat for their test, and the government established ventilation guidelines for exam rooms. Students were prevented from using the cafeteria or waiting halls to reduce contact.
Public health clinics conducted tests until 10pm the day before the exam to encourage students to be diagnosed if they had symptoms. Priority was given to Govt tests for students. A high school teacher in the city south of Seoul tested positive on Wednesday night at 9.30pm. After one of his close contacts tested positive, dozens of selected workers were transferred to reserve staff.
For students taking the exam, those activities made the already difficult exam very stressful. Seoul student Hwang Yoon-jai, who passed the exam for the second time after graduating the previous year, said he studies close to 15 hours a day, including on weekends.
“I am very worried (this year) because we have to make the choice in the worst case scenario,” he said. “We have to wear masks. There’s a plastic divider on the table.”
What is the risk?
Authorities are taking extra action for one simple reason: they want to prevent exam-related explosions.
Unlike previous outbreaks, a third wave is spreading among young people, according to the Korea Institute for Disease Control and Prevention. After Thursday’s exam, some students will travel across the country for additional exams to be held at the colleges.
“When we were fully prepared, I was apprehensive about the rare situation where unselected patients would be found among the examinees and the community would start to spread,” Education Minister Yu said. “We are doing everything we can to prevent a situation like this.”
But for the people, the risk was too high.
In recent weeks, about 6,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the exam to be postponed for two weeks. The petition said that now conducting the exam was “like throwing students into a fire pit” and questioned whether schooling was more important than the health of the children.
In the online communities where high school seniors share exam tips, many students said they are worried that they may be forced to isolate themselves if they catch the cove during the exam, meaning they may miss additional college exams next week.
But the government of President Moon Jae-in was adamant that the election should continue.
Na Yong-seo, a high school senior in Satellite City outside of Seoul, said it was difficult to focus on the mask he was wearing and the large divider installed on his desk, but he was further concerned about the uncertainty caused by the infection, which has already been pushed back once.
“Honestly, I want to finish the exam soon. Of course, it’s dangerous,” he said. “The continuous delay and the following endless study will be very difficult for me and I wish it would be over soon.”
Hwang, a Seoul student, said he was not worried about the epidemic, despite the risk of Govt-19.
“I think any student would be more interested in getting a bad result in the exam than catching the cove,” he said.
CNN’s Kawan Pei, Son Cho-mi and Jo Yoon-ji reported from Seoul.