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Saturday, Jun 10, 2023

All students writing Hong Kong’s university entrance exams must wear masks

All students writing Hong Kong’s university entrance exams must wear masks

Covid-positive candidates sitting the English oral exam could reschedule within three working days after original examination date.

A designated centre will be set up for Covid-positive candidates sitting Hong Kong’s coming university entrance exams, while all students will be required to wear masks, authorities have said.

Despite the city having lifted all social-distancing measures, the exams authority on Wednesday announced that candidates sitting the Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) would have to observe certain pandemic rules.

The Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority said it was “implementing a series of contingency and precautionary measures, in consultation with the Centre for Health Protection, during the examinations to ensure the health and well-being of candidates”.

It said candidates sitting the English oral exam who tested positive for Covid-19 could reschedule within three working days after the original examination date.

The Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority will prepare designated centres for candidates who test positive for Covid.

The English oral exams resume between March 21 and March 30 after being suspended for three years because of Covid-19. The authority said candidates taking the assessment would be seated one metre (3.2 feet) apart.

The written exams for core subjects and electives will be held from April 21 to May 18, and candidates will be seated at least 1.5 metres apart.

A total of 50,823 candidates have registered to sit the DSE this year – 759 more than in 2022. It marks the first increase after yearly declines since 2014.

The authority said all candidates must wear a mask, check their body temperature and sign a health declaration form before going to the exam centre, and use an alcohol-based sanitiser for their hands.

But unlike in 2022 when all candidates were required to take rapid antigen tests on their exam days, only those suffering from a fever would need to do so this year.

Authorities will set up a designated exam centre for candidates who test positive for Covid-19. Last year, 44 infected candidates took their exams at a special centre set up at the Penny’s Bay isolation facilities on Lantau Island, which has since closed following the easing of the pandemic.

The exams body said: “Candidates infected with Covid-19 should consult a doctor as soon as possible. They are not allowed to enter normal/special examination centres but may opt to sit the written examinations at an examination centre designated by the [authority].

“The arrangements for the designated examination centre will be announced in due course.”

It said candidates unable to attend any written or practical exams because of illness could apply for assessment of their results with documentary evidence.

“Following the practice from the 2020 to 2022 HKDSE, the Public Examinations Board has approved that school candidates who are absent from the examinations due to medical reasons or special circumstances resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic may be considered for an assessed subject result up to Level 5 in the 2023 HKDSE,” the exams body said, referring to the diploma’s seven-level grading scale.

Nearly 44,900 students will be the last cohort to sit the exam for the controversial liberal studies subject after the government announced in 2020 that it needed to be revamped in the wake of 2019’s social unrest.

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