Infections rising since mid-November . . .
South Korea is facing another wave of coronavirus outbreaks, with new cases averaging 500 per day. Authorities have tightened restrictions around the greater Seoul area, where most of the cases have been reported. These measures include raising the social distancing to Level 2 out of a maximum of five in Korea’s revised system and banning indoor group exercises. The recent outbreaks result from community transmission and are harder to link to any specific event, making it difficult for contact tracing. With more people staying indoors as the weather gets colder, authorities fear that the current wave may be larger than the first two waves earlier this year.
College entrance exam a test for everyone . . .
Despite concerns over rising coronavirus infections, South Korea will push ahead with its annual nationwide college entrance exam on Thursday, which had already been delayed by two weeks. The eight-hour test will look very different this year, however, with all students required to wear masks and get their temperatures checked before entering the test premises. Students who test positive for COVID-19 will still be able to take the exam at designated facilities. Although South Korea has a precedent for holding successful large-scale events amid the pandemic, including national elections in April, the college entrance exams pose a greater health risk as students, proctors, and staff will be spending several hours together in a confined space.
Facing an uncertain future . . .
South Korea’s College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) determines not only which university a student can attend, but also their future career paths and chances to climb the socioeconomic ladder. Students spend years preparing for this all-important exam, but the recent cancellation of in-person classes at cram schools disrupted their studies at a crucial time. Added to this are the less than optimal test conditions, causing students and parents to worry that the test scores will be lower. It will not be until after the exams are concluded that we will know the effects of the pandemic on student achievement and – equally importantly – their health.
- The Korea Herald: S. Korea braces for nat’l college entrance exam amid pandemic
- Los Angeles Times: Testing times: South Korea holds high-stakes college exam as COVID-19 cases rise
- Yonhap News Agency: New virus cases bounce back to over 500 as effect of tougher curbs yet to be felt