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Gov't launches 2-week special monitoring of antivirus measures for college admissions test

All News 10:40 November 19, 2020

By Woo Jae-yeon

SEOUL, Nov. 19 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean government instituted a two-week special campaign Thursday aimed at ensuring that students nationwide take the annual state college entrance exam safely amid growing concerns about sharp hikes in new COVID-19 cases.

The Ministry of Education said it will closely monitor cram schools and other business establishments used by young students to see whether they operate under strict antivirus measures until the end of the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) slated for Dec. 3. More than 490,000 high school students and others plan to take the exam simultaneously at designated places across the country.

A poster with instructions on entry is posted on the door of a cram school in Seoul on Nov. 18, 2020. (Yonhap)

During the precautionary period, the education ministry, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency and the Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation are monitoring the situation of the pandemic. Education offices and local health care centers are also running a real-time response team.

Private institutes, study facilities, internet cafes and karaoke facilities should thoroughly follow state health protocols to curb COVID-19 infections among students. In the case of an outbreak, the names of cram schools and transmission routes will be temporarily made public on the ministry's website.

Starting next Thursday, cram schools will be strongly advised against running in-person classes from Nov. 26, and students will also be urged not to attend them. All high schools and other schools to be used as testing sites will switch to online-only teaching.

High school seniors take a mock test in Daegu, South Korea, on Nov. 18, 2020. (Yonhap)

The move came as the country has experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases recently, putting educators, students and parents on alert over the worsening pandemic in the run-up to the important national event.

For the first 17 days of this month, a daily average of 5,093 high school students were not able to attend in-person classes, as they were either in self-isolation or showed symptoms of COVID-19. The tally is higher than 4,357 recorded in September and 4,008 in October.

In order to contain transmissions, Seoul, Gyeonggi Province, Gwangju, southwest of Seoul, and part of Gangwon Province enforced the second-lowest restrictions under the country's five-tier system.

A student works at a study cafe in Seoul on Nov. 16, 2020. (Yonhap)

"We can't let our guard down even the slightest bit," Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae said during a meeting with educational superintendents from around the country earlier this week, asking the ministry and education offices to prepare for the worsening of the pandemic situations.

"So far, the ministry has prepared separate testing places that can serve up to 120 patients and 3,800 students in self-isolation," she said, "Given the recent spread of COVID-19, however, the number of those in self-isolation could grow."


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