- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.