Nearly 500,000 South Korean students take their college entrance exam

Exams were subject to strict anti-coronavirus measures. Meanwhile, the country is experiencing an upsurge in coronavirus cases. Students were divided according to their state of health. Parents prayed for their children’s success. The number of classrooms was increased to reduce the risk of infection. Plastic dividers kept candidates apart.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – About 426,000 South Korean students took the university entrance exam today under strict anti-coronavirus measures.

Since the pandemic broke out at the start of the year, South Korea has reported just over 35,000 cases with 526 deaths. But in the past few days, the outbreak has seen a surge with 540 new cases reported yesterday, the seventh day in a row above 400.

Like elsewhere in East Asia, access to a good university is considered essential for a stable professional future in South Korea.

To avoid spreading the virus, the authorities banned cheering outside the exam centres, but following tradition families prayed for good results.

The College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) had fewer takers this year, 10 per cent less than in 2919, the lowest since the current exam was introduced in 1994.

Those who signed up for the CSAT include 35 who are coronavirus patients and 404 who were in self-quarantine as of Tuesday. Hospital beds were set up for COVID-19 patients and special test centres were available for those in self-quarantine.

To limit contacts as much as possible, the authorities set up 1,383 test centres and 31,291 classrooms nationwide, a nearly 50 per cent increase from last year.

With the increased number of test classrooms, the number of examiners and other staff on duty was also increased to about 120,000.

Under the government’s antivirus measures, all high schools were required to conduct classes online starting 26 November, and all students were advised to stay home if possible and refrain from using crowded facilities. The government also increased public transport.

Test-takers with COVID-19 symptoms were able to get tested for the virus until 10 pm. Classroom desks were fitted with plastic dividers as an added precaution. Students had to bring their own packed lunch.

Things did not go smoothly everywhere. In one school in Daejeon, an examiner tested positive forcing the authorities to replace him and 18 of his colleagues, Yonhap reported.

(Photo Yonhap)

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