Ministry of Education steps back and considers allowing confirmed students to take mid-term exams

Students take the National Coalition’s Academic Ability Assessment Exam at a high school in eastern Seoul on March 24. (Joint Press Body)

Stepping back from its initial decision to ban students confirmed by COVID-19 from taking the mid-term exams, the Ministry of Education is now considering allowing them to take the exams.

The Department for Education said it was considering options for testing students with active coronavirus cases later this month.

“We have not decided to allow students who have been ordered into isolation by disease control authorities to take midterm exams,” the ministry said in an announcement Thursday. “We will make a decision soon, reviewing guidance from disease control authorities and school environments. We will discuss this with the education offices and then inform the schools.

Although the ministry initially said confirmed students would not be able to come to school in person to take the exams for public health reasons, disease control authorities showed a different response.

“For official public exams, authorities are asking candidates with COVID-19 to take the exams in separate rooms,” Park Young-joon, a senior official with the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, said. during a Thursday briefing.

“The disease control agency plans to support (students confirmed to take midterm exams) if the Department of Education comes up with a directive,” Park said.

Even Presidential Transitional Committee Chairman Ahn Cheol-soo made an official comment on the matter.

“Confirmed patients are allowed to see doctors and take prescribed medications,” Ahn said. “I want to ask the government if it is possible for senior students to take the exams in separate rooms while wearing masks, instead of missing the opportunity.”

According to the Ministry of Education, most schools are expected to take their midterm exams later this month.

On Monday, the Ministry of Education announced that confirmed students would have to miss exams because they cannot attend school in person. Instead, students would receive scores based on previous exam results, converted taking into account the level of test difficulty and the distribution of test scores.

The decision has drawn complaints from students and parents, as a significant number of students will likely miss exams due to the ongoing omicron wave, possibly putting them at a disadvantage in university applications.

By Im Eun-byel ([email protected]