Key check: South Koreans sit college examination amid COVID-19 surge

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Nearly 500,000 highschool college students are sitting the check with stringent measures imposed to curb the virus.South Korea fell quiet on Thursday as tons of of 1000’s of scholars sat for the nation’s high-stakes nationwide college entrance examination amid a surge in coronavirus circumstances that has prompted new measures to curb its unfold, together with for candidates sitting the check.
Teenagers spend years getting ready for the examination, which may imply a spot in one of many elite schools which are seen as key to future careers, incomes and even marriage prospects.
This 12 months, the coronavirus pandemic has added to the strain – delaying and disrupting the varsity 12 months and at occasions forcing all lessons on-line.
At the elite Ewha Girls’ Foreign Language High School many college students arrived on their very own or with their test-taking buddies and a few dad and mom appeared extra nervous than their youngsters. Tightened curbs following a wave of recent circumstances meant college students had been banned from cheering on their classmates on the faculty gates as they arrived for the examination.
“I’m actually quite relieved now that it’s all going to be over soon,” mentioned 18-year-old Kim Chae-eun.
“This exam is important because Korean society makes you study your whole life up till this point for this one exam.”
Only dad and mom had been on the faculty gates as a result of college students had been banned from cheering on their classmates due to coronavirus restrictions [Jung Yeon-je/AFP]The annual College Scholastic Ability Test, is a high-pressure standardised entrance examination, that may set the course for younger South Koreans’ future careers [Jung Yeon-je/AFP]South Korea introduced its outbreak underneath management earlier within the 12 months with an efficient system of  “trace, test and treat”, however in latest weeks new circumstances have surged once more.
On Thursday, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) introduced 540 new circumstances, bringing the nation’s complete caseload to 35,703, and the authorities have warned measures may must be tightened additional if circumstances will not be introduced underneath management this week.
The nation operates a five-tier social-distancing system and larger Seoul – home to approximately half the nation’s inhabitants – was placed on Level 2 on November 24 as circumstances started to rise.
The examination itself is a specific concern, with nearly 500,000 pupils gathering in check centres throughout the nation.
Students had been checked on arrival and people displaying temperatures of 37.5 Celsius (99.5 Fahrenheit) or greater – or different coronavirus signs – needed to take the check in a separate, designated space.
Plastic see-through dividers had been arrange on every desk and college students had been required to put on masks all through the check.
All candidates had been suggested to chorus from gathering and speaking throughout breaks, with examination rooms to be ventilated after every session.
Quiet, please
The examination itself was delayed for 2 weeks because of the earlier disruptions to educating, as all excessive faculties throughout the nation returned to on-line lessons for per week to attempt to stop faculty clusters.
“It will be even more difficult and worrisome to take the exam in the coronavirus situation,” President Moon Jae-in wrote in a very good luck message posted on social media. “I’d like to put warm scarves around your necks.”
South Korea pulls out all of the stops to make sure the check takers will not be disturbed.
Worshippers provide prayers for family members and family members on the eve of the annual faculty entrance exams, on the Jogye Buddhist temple in Seoul. The nation has pulled out all of the stops for the high-stakes check [Ed JONES/AFP]Government workplaces, companies and even Seoul’s inventory market opened an hour later than ordinary to scale back site visitors and assist the scholars arrive on time, and police escorts had been obtainable for any operating late – nobody is allowed into the examination room as soon as the check has begun.
In addition, all flights at South Korean airports are suspended for 35 minutes throughout an English listening check, whereas all plane already within the air should keep an altitude greater than three kilometres (9,843 ft).
The transport ministry mentioned 89 flights had been rescheduled because of the examination, together with 10 worldwide routes.
And there have been no concessions for the contaminated: the federal government mentioned 35 college students who’ve the virus had been attributable to take the check concurrently their classmates, at hospitals or quarantine centres and supervised by schooling officers in full private protecting gear.
A authorities demonstration video confirmed all the pieces they used – from pencils to the identify tag figuring out their desk – can be disposed of as a biohazard afterwards.