Changes to testing arrangements for students taking national year-end exams: MOE, SEAB

SINGAPORE – Students who have been placed on leave of absence (LOA) after coming into close contact with confirmed Covid-19 cases will now be allowed to take national examinations if they test negative for the virus in antigen rapid tests (ARTs).

This is provided they are not awaiting a quarantine order. They will also have to take the ART at their school or examination venue every two days until their LOA is rescinded.

These updated arrangements will allow as many students as possible to take their exam papers while keeping candidates and staff safe, the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) said in a joint statement on Saturday (Aug 28).

The national year-end written examinations for key subjects will start on Sept 15, starting with the GCE N levels and ending with the GCE A levels.

Those who are placed on LOA because they are staying with individuals who have been given a quarantine order or are under a stay-home notice will be allowed to take their papers if their ART is negative.

Likewise, they will also have to undergo testing at regular intervals.

Those on approved absence because they are staying in the same household with members aged six and above who have flu-like symptoms with pending polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results will be allowed to take the examinations if a one-time ART is negative.

MOE and SEAB said: “They can do a self-swab with ART kits at home and inform their schools of the outcome before their examination. For candidates on (approved absence) due to being placed on the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) mandatory testing regime or Health Risk Warning alert, they must complete their MOH-mandated entry PCR test and test negative before they can sit their examinations.”

Unlike PCR tests, which take up to 48 hours, the ART has a quick turnaround time of 30 minutes.

The statement added that pupils taking their Primary School Leaving Examinations, in view of their younger age, should be accompanied by a parent or guardian who can help administer the test if they are required to undergo any ART at their school or examination venue.

Alternatively, parents or guardians may give consent for the pupils to undergo a supervised self-administered ART in their school or examination venue.

MOE and SEAB added that those who miss the national examinations with valid reasons can apply for special consideration, and SEAB will consider multiple sources of evidence, such as the candidate’s performance in the other papers and the school cohort’s performance in national and school-based examinations for the affected subject, when awarding a grade for these affected candidates.

Safe management measures will also continue to be implemented at schools and examination venues, such as temperature taking and the wearing of masks.