The Ministry of Education (MOE) and Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) have announced that four national examinations—the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), N levels, O levels and A levels—will go on as scheduled amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but with safe management measures and special arrangements to keep students safe.
The written exams, which will be held from Sep 14 to Dec 2, see safe management measures such as temperature taking and safe distancing in place while, those who would require special arrangements will be given exceptions on “case-by-case basis.”
MOE and SEAB have put together answers to frequently asked questions on the special arrangements.
Summary of the special arrangements for the national examinations. | Image source: MOE
FAQs on Special Arrangements The National Examinations
1. How and where can students get tested for COVID-19?
A graduating student who is unwell, especially if he/she displays respiratory symptoms such as runny nose, cough, sore throat, or has a fever, should see a doctor at a General Practitioner (GP) clinic participating in the Swab-and-Send-Home (SASH) initiative, or polyclinic. A list of GP clinics participating in the SASH initiative can be found at the following website: www.phpc.gov.sg.
If diagnosed by the doctor to have acute respiratory infection (ARI), he/she will be required to be tested for COVID-19.
PSLE students who display symptoms close to the examination date (i.e. 28 September onwards), as well as during the examination itself, should seek medical attention at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH).
This is to ensure timely diagnosis and notification of results, should they be diagnosed with ARI and require COVID-19 testing. For students taking the N-, O- or A-Levels who display symptoms close to the examination date (i.e. four days before the start of their respective examination), they should seek medical attention at polyclinics to ensure timely diagnosis and notification of results.
While awaiting notification of the COVID-19 swab test results, students must stay home and will not be allowed to enter the examination venue.
Students aged 16 years and younger should be accompanied by an adult for the COVID19 swab test. This facilitates consent-taking and communication to both the student and accompanying adult on the precautions to take note of while awaiting the test results at home.
2. As national examinations are essential for progression, can special provisions or alternative arrangements be made, such as online invigilation for candidates who are confirmed cases or who are on SHN and HQO?
As online invigilation essentially involves candidates taking examinations at home, the fairness and integrity of the national examinations may be compromised. It is also important for us to consider the challenges faced in the management and provision of resources for online invigilation, given that it involves the administration of the examinations in individuals’ homes. As such, there are no plans for online invigilation arrangements.
3. What happens if there is a confirmed case in a school during the national examinations?
If there is any confirmed case(s) in a school during the national examinations period, all close contacts of the confirmed case(s) will be identified, and schools may suspend 2 classes and activities for disinfection and deep cleaning of affected areas, as well as for contact tracing investigations to be completed. Special consideration will be applied for affected students to ensure that they are not disadvantaged for the national examinations.
Students who are unaffected will either continue to take their examinations in another classroom block within the school, or in an examination venue managed by SEAB.
4. Will the year-end national examinations be called off or postponed if we enter another Circuit Breaker, or if the COVID-19 situation worsens?
In this case, how will candidates be assessed? The national examinations are important milestones that affect candidates’ progression. Postponing or cancelling the examinations would be a last resort. Should the COVID-19 situation worsen considerably, and it is necessary to enter another Circuit Breaker, MOE and SEAB will review our plans in tandem with the national posture.
5. Will special arrangements be made for candidates taking the year-end Science practical examinations as well?
What will be the safe management measures in place? The same arrangements will apply for the year-end Science practical examinations – candidates who are confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection or on Quarantine Order, Stay-Home Notice (SHN) or Leave of Absence (LOA) due to close contact with confirmed COVID-19 cases will not be allowed to sit for the practical examinations.
Candidates who had travelled out of Singapore for compassionate reasons and were placed on SHN will also not be allowed to sit for the examinations. This is because the conduct of the Science practical examinations requires unique equipment and logistics, such as a science laboratory. Candidates who miss the examinations can apply for special consideration.
Similarly, candidates on LOA as a result of staying in the same household with individuals on Home Quarantine Order or those diagnosed with ARI will be allowed to sit for the science practical examinations if they test negative for COVID-19. Similar safe management measures will be implemented for the practical examinations.
These candidates will take their science practical examinations in the last shift and will be assigned to a separate laboratory with a cap of 10 candidates per science laboratory (instead of 20). They will be seated 3 metres apart. The arrival and dismissal time, as well as reporting area, will be deconflicted to reduce intermingling between different groups of candidates.