South Korean students infected with the novel coronavirus or in self-quarantine can still take the national university entrance exam at separate sites in early December.
The Ministry of Education unveiled Tuesday the plan for the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT), the country's biggest academic event of the year, which includes measures to safely hold the test for approximately 480,000 students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plan, devised jointly with health authorities and education offices and universities nationwide, offers detailed guidelines for the state-run exam, as well as the selection and screening process run by universities nationwide.
For the national event slated for Dec. 3, testing sites, 1,185 in total, will be set up in accordance with quarantine protocols, with a maximum capacity of 24 students per testing room, down from the usual 28, to ensure social distancing. Spaced out desks will be installed with plastic dividers. Face masks will be mandatory, and there will be fever checks.
The ministry said it will closely monitor the spread of the virus to determine the size and volume of testing rooms for students who show symptoms of COVID-19 on the testing day.
Students infected with the virus are allowed to take the test in hospitals or other government institutes. Those in self-quarantine should travel by car or ambulance to take the exam in separate testing sites.
More detailed plans on quarantine personnel and ventilation for testing venues will be hammered out in late September or early October, in consultation with relevant government agencies, the ministry said.
Separately, the ministry urged universities to make a thorough anti-virus plan for student recruiting. A total of 183 South Korean universities run their own screening and selection programs and tests from Oct. 6 to Dec. 25, on top of the national exam. An estimated 1.3 million students are subject to those programs.
Under the ministry's recommendations, schools should guarantee social distancing, minimize crowding on campus during screening days and make the most out of remote methods. They can also until Aug. 19 change their recruiting plans to lessen confusion for students. COVID-19 patients are only allowed to take an online exam or participate in the remote selection process. Those in self-quarantine will be instructed to take an in-person exam in a separate testing site, if necessary.
"As the ministry is not the test administrator, it cannot force each university to allow patients to take an in-person exam," a ministry official said, adding, "The CSAT can make an exception for (COVID-19) patients because it is state-run."
The ministry also said it plans to list students whose movement is restricted under quarantine measures and to share the information with schools in order to help them ride out any difficulty in the college entrance process. (Yonhap)