HKDSE candidates forced to change venues after positive Covid-19 cases close two schools

  • About 100 students were affected by the closures on Friday after one student tested positive for coronavirus, while another was a close contact of a patient
  • Schools have introduced a number of precautionary measures, such as social distancing, mask requirements and taking temperatures

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Students line up for the Visual Arts DSE exam at Gertrude Simon Lutheran College in Yuen Long. Photo: SCMP/May Tse

Dozens of students were forced to take the first test of the HKDSE in backup venues after the sudden coronavirus-related closure of at least two schools on Friday.

Exams were abruptly cancelled at Shung Tak Catholic English College and Ching Chung Hau Po Woon Secondary School in the New Territories following confirmation that a student at the former was infected with Covid-19, and one at the latter was a patient’s close contact.

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About 100 students were affected by the closures and instead, had to take the day’s visual arts exam at Ho Ngai College and Tuen Mun Government Secondary School.

In addition, at least one candidate was set to take the assessment at the government’s Penny’s Bay quarantine centre, under new arrangements introduced by the exam body this year.

The exams authority requires the more than 400 schools hosting test centres to implement anti-contagion measures such as social distancing, mask wearing and temperature screening. Candidates whose temperature exceeds 38 degree Celsius will be asked to leave and immediately consult a doctor.

Those unable to take the exam would be assessed based on how they performed in their school’s internal assessments, with the maximum grade capped at two levels below the highest on a seven-point scale.

At Gertrude Simon Lutheran College, assistant principal Chan Yiu-fai said its exam hall held about 40 students for Friday’s exam, down from the maximum capacity of more than 120 seats. Desks were placed about 1.5 metres apart.

Since the school still holding half-day, in-person classes, Chan said students and candidates were entering and leaving the campus in stages for crowd-control purposes.

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The change of venue at late notice was an inconvenience for some candidates.

“I originally expected to take the exam at my own school, but was only notified about the change two days ago,” said Zita Mou, 17, from Shung Tak Catholic English College in Yuen Long. She added that the new arrangement extended her journey time by half an hour.

Meanwhile, Sharon Cheung, 17, said she was not worried about the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

“Everyone is wearing a mask in the [exam hall], and I will also maintain good hand hygiene,” she said.

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