'A good move': Covid positive learners can write their matric exams

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Matric Class of 2020 positive learners will be allowed to write in isolated areas.
Matric Class of 2020 positive learners will be allowed to write in isolated areas.
Roger Sedres

The Department of Education (DBE) in agreement with the Department of Health (DoH) announced last week that learners who are positive for Covid-19 are now allowed to write matric examinations.

The agreement came about after learners and parents sent a request for the government to review their protocol that stated that learners who test positive for Covid-19 will not write matric examinations.

After some deliberation "It was agreed that candidates who test positive, and deemed fit to write the examination, will be allowed to write albeit at a different venue and under secure conditions that comply with the examination regulations," said DBE.

Parents and learners are responsible 

In the revised protocol for writing examinations it is stated that parents and learners are responsible to inform the school principal immediately of the positive status of the candidate.

As soon as the notification is received that a candidate has tested positive, an urgent meeting should be convened between the parent, the school principal, an examination official, a governing body representative and where possible a health official, and the most suitable arrangement for the writing of the examination for this candidate must be finalized, says the DBE.

Additionally, the parent must take responsibility for the transportation of the candidate to the isolation venue and the school and the Departments of Health and Education will take responsibility for the isolation venue.

The reason for this is for the Department of Basic Education to make  arrangements for the candidate to write the examinations at an isolated venue that complies with the health and safety, and the examination regulations relating to a secure examination.

A good move

Parent24 talked to Mr Khumalo, a teacher at a private school in the Eastern Cape, who believes that its a good move that government puts the children's futures first.

"Well, I honestly think it's a good idea on the government's part to put candidates first because they are the future of this country," he said.

In the private school where Khumalo teaches, already 20 learners have tested positive, but all those learners were quarantined, even though most of them were asymptomatic.

He believes that it would be unfair to forbid students with the capacity to write from writing their matric examinations now. 

Read: Matric pupils who test Covid-19 positive will write exams at churches, hospitals, says DBE

No longer an education issue

DBE Minister Motshekga clarified that "We welcome the intervention by the Department of Health given that a learner that tests positive becomes the responsibility of the Department of Health and is no longer an education issue."

Learners will be screened at the entrance of the examination venue and should anyone display a temperature higher than 38°C, they will be moved to write the examination in an isolation venue at the school.

These learners will be immediately taken to the isolation venue and after the examination, they will not be allowed to socialise with other learners, but will be taken to health centres for further medical attention.

The isolation venue

The isolation venue is the duty of the Provincial Education Department (PED). The PED must liaise with the Provincial Department of Health and establish isolation venues at selected centres in the province.

An isolation venue could be:

1. A quarantine or isolation centre established by the DoH to keep persons in quarantine or those that have tested positive for Covid-19, in isolation.

2. A venue identified by the DoH in conjunction with the PED, that will serve as an isolation venue to write the 2020 Combined November examination.

This could be a clinic, a room in a hospital, a community hall, a church hall or any other venue, which does not exclude the home, that is conducive to the writing of an examination.

Invigilation 

Invigilation in the isolation venue will be carried out by an educator, examination official or a private invigilator or, by agreement, a health official.

In utilising the services of either of these persons to serve as an invigilator, the following must be complied with:

  • The individual must be fully briefed of the task to be carried out.
  • The written consent of the individual must be obtained.
  • The individual must be trained to carry out the important task of invigilation.

Quarantine 

Most importantly, in a case of a suspected Covid-19 case, where a candidate was in close contact with a person that tested positive as per the guidelines must be in quarantine for ten days.

If not tested a candidate must be managed as if, he/she has tested positive, which implies that the examination will be conducted at an isolation venue, outside the allocated examination venue.

Lastly, candidates who have tested positive and decide not to write the examinations due to their adverse symptoms, will be marked absent and must be allowed to write the May/June 2021 examinations, says DBE.

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