South Korea holds university entrance exams amid Covid-19 spike

Seoul, Nov 18 (EFE).- More than half a million South Korean students were taking university entrance exams today, being held in the midst of an upturn in Covid-19 infections in the country.

Just over 509,800 students were due to sit this year’s University Academic Skills Test, known as Suneung in Korean.

It is the second time the country has held this exam – which takes place at the same date and time countrywide – since the pandemic began and authorities allowed those sitting the test to be vaccinated first since the summer. The exam is being held on the day the country reported a record 3,292 new cases.

Despite the rebound, authorities said this week that infections are currently very localized in nursing homes, so they are not considering imposing new restrictions.

In the 1,251 centers where the exam was due to be held, more than 100 separate classrooms have been set up for students who have to be in isolation for suspected contagion, the Education Ministry said.

Those who have tested positive for Covid-19 will be able to take the test in the clinics where they are admitted.

The pandemic already forced examinations to be delayed by two weeks in 2020, held amid preventive measures similar to this year’s, which also include temperature checks and mandatory mask use.

As happened last year, traditional parent, family and friend gatherings outside testing centers in the early morning to cheer schoolchildren on before the test were reduced.

Sitting the Suneung marks years of academic effort for students in a country devoted to education.

Students must tackle eight different subjects over a nine-hour period that includes just under two hours for rest and lunch.

Once exam day arrives, morning public transport frequency increases, the Seoul Stock Exchange and public officials begin working an hour later and the police have special vehicles – with sirens blaring – to transport students to test centers if they run late.

Airplanes are also banned from taking off or landing during the period in which the English listening test is held. EFE


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