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Students infected with COVID-19 to be allowed to take school exams

National 16:26 May 20, 2022

SEOUL, May 20 (Yonhap) -- Middle and high school students infected with COVID-19 will be allowed to take school exams beginning this semester, the education ministry said Friday, as new coronavirus cases have been on a steady decline.

Students who have contracted the disease will still be prohibited from attending school. But if they want to take an exam, they will be allowed to go to school and sit for the exam under strict guidelines, the ministry said.

Middle and high schools across the country are scheduled to hold final exams between late June and early July.

Schools are required to prepare separate exam rooms, and identify exam-takers with coronavirus and report the list to health authorities one day before the exam, the ministry said.

This undated file photo shows students wearing masks as they sit for an exam. (Yonhap)

They must enforce strict distancing rules, including mask wearing, separate meals and staggered seats, to prevent the spread of infection.

Calls have mounted to loosen the exam restriction on infected students since April, when the highly transmissible, less severe variant of omicron sharply increased the number of student patients ahead of midterm exams.

But the ministry maintained the policy, citing the fairness problem with students who missed the exam due to the illness in previous semesters. The ministry said at the time it may remove the ban if health authorities change the self-isolation mandate for coronavirus patients.

On Friday, the government decided to extend the seven-day self-isolation requirement by four weeks until June 20.

"Though the quarantine authorities decided to maintain the self-isolation obligation for the time being, (the government) made an exception to allow students taking exams to go out during the exam period," a ministry official said.

In response to the decision, schools demanded the government come up with concrete measures to prevent infections during exams.

"It should not proceed in a way that passes all burdens and responsibilities onto schools. (The government) should prepare a clear manual to operate separate exam rooms and provide detailed support measures to prevent infections and ensure safety," the Korean Federation of Teachers' Associations said in a statement.

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