DSE 2022: 44 candidates took exam at Hong Kong’s Penny’s Bay quarantine centre this year

  • Close contacts of coronavirus cases, as well as students who tested positive for Covid themselves, were able to sit for their exams at the facility
  • Three exam personnel share what it was like to work in the centre, the protocols, and how they helped students in isolation
Kelly Fung |

Latest Articles

Top 10: What habits did you grow out of as you got older?

Play to Thrive project promotes youth mental health through football

Covid XBB variant vaccine’s first batch arrives in Hong Kong

Hong Kong gets first full-time college for adult prisoners

Workers give a demonstration of the special DSE arrangement at the Penny’s Bay exam centre. Photo: HKEAA

A total of 44 candidates – all either close contacts of someone who tested positive for coronavirus, or sick themselves – sat for the Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) exam at a special examination centre in Penny’s Bay isolation facility this year.

Three examination personnel, including a centre supervisor working at Penny’s Bay for the 2021 and 2022 DSE, an invigilator at the “confirmed case” zone for the first time this year, and a representative of the School Examinations and Assessment Division of HKEAA, spoke at a press conference on Wednesday about their experience arranging the university entrance exam.

Three exam personnel who worked at the Penny’s Bay special DSE centre spoke about their experience at a press conference on Wednesday. From left to right: Enoch Wong Chi-lok, invigilator of the confirmed case zone; Ho Ka-hung, Centre Supervisor at the examination centre; and Cindy Chiu, Senior Manager of the School Examinations and Assessment Division of Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority. Photo: SCMP

Among those who took their exams at Penny’s Bay, 26 had tested positive for Covid-19 and 18 had to undergo mandatory quarantine, according to Cindy Chiu, Senior Manager of the School Examinations and Assessment Division for the HKEAA.

Five students contacted exam authorities and the designated taxi hotline on the day of their exams to arrange point-to-point transport service to the centre. Three students stayed at the facility for a period of eight days, each sitting for a total of six papers.

Last year, seven DSE candidates who were close contacts of positive coronavirus cases took their exams at the isolation facility. This year, new arrangements, such as installing cameras in each exam room and setting up a control room for personnel, were made to allow exam supervisors to monitor the process with minimal contact with candidates who tested positive.

No home away from home for domestic workers terminated after contracting coronavirus

Chiu said that the facility hosted examinations across 15 subjects, involving about 290 papers, with help from 47 personnel. All tests were conducted on time, with ample papers prepared in advance for students who arrived on the day of the exam.

Enoch Wong Chi-lok, 26, an invigilator who worked at the “confirmed case” zone of the centre for six days, said most of the candidates who had coronavirus had not reported many symptoms.

Wong added that since there were not many students at the facility, invigilators could be more attentive to the needs of each individual pupil.

A medical worker watches a student from the control room at the Penny’s Bay exam centre. Photo: HKEAA

The invigilator came across a case where a student undergoing compulsory quarantine did not want to leave the examination room after their test, because it was the only time the candidate could breathe fresh air and have human contact.

“Students were not allowed to open the window in the room they slept in and no one could talk to them,” he said. “The candidate wanted to seize the opportunity to have some fresh air and talk to others, so we allowed them to stay a bit longer and sometimes chatted with them.”

Centre Supervisor Ho Ka-hung, 62, a retired secondary school teacher who worked for the second year at the facility, said he would try to check on the candidates’ physical health while ensuring the exam process was fair and smooth for all candidates.

Is Covid now endemic in Hong Kong?

“My duty was to stay in the control room to monitor students through a camera set up in each assessment room, checking if any had raised their hand to request help,” he said, adding that it was fortunate that candidates at the facility were in good physical condition.

Ho added that he was not too worried about working at the facility, as he had received training from the HKEAA and generally felt safe with the protocol that ensured minimal contact with students who contracted the coronavirus.

All students and invigilators at the Penny’s Bay exam centre were required to take a Covid-19 rapid test on the day of the exam. The facility could accommodate up to 1,000 students, with 50 rooms set up for this year’s exams.

Sign up for the YP Teachers Newsletter
Get updates for teachers sent directly to your inbox
By registering, you agree to our T&C and Privacy Policy