Students take the Nationwide Coalition Scholastic Ability Evaluations exam at a highschool in eastern Seoul on March 24. (Joint Press Corps)
Taking a step back from its initial decision to ban COVID-19-confirmed students from taking midterms, the Ministry of Education is now looking into allowing them to sit for the exams.
The Education Ministry said it is currently reviewing the possibilities of having students with active coronavirus cases take the tests later this month.
“We have not decided to allow students who have been ordered into isolation from the disease control authorities to take the midterm exams,“ the ministry said through an announcement made Thursday. “We will make a decision soon, reviewing the guidelines of the disease control authorities and school environments. We will discuss this with education offices and then inform schools.”
Though the ministry initially said that confirmed students would not be able to attend school in-person to take the exams due to public health safety reasons, disease control authorities have shown a different response.
“For the public official exams, authorities instruct test-takers with COVID-19 to take the exams in separate rooms,” Park Young-joon, a senior official of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, said at a briefing Thursday.
“The disease control agency plans to support (confirmed students to take the midterm exams) if the Education Ministry comes up with a guideline,” Park said.
Even presidential transition committee Chairman Ahn Cheol-soo made an official comment on the matter.
“Confirmed patients are allowed to see doctors and pick up prescribed medicine,” Ahn said. “I want to ask the government whether it is possible to have confirmed students take the exams in separate rooms while wearing masks, instead of missing out on the opportunity.”
According to the Education Ministry, most schools are set to have their midterm exams later this month.
On Monday, the Education Ministry announced that confirmed students would have to miss out on the exams, as they cannot attend school in-person. The students would instead receive scores based on past exam records, converted in consideration of the level of difficulty of the test and the distribution of test scores.
The decision was met with complaints from students and parents, as a significant number of students will be likely to miss out on the exams due to the ongoing omicron wave, possibly putting them at a disadvantage for college applications.
By Im Eun-byel (firstname.lastname@example.org