How Will Ministry Of Education Handle Covid Infections During SPM? — Rajiv Rishyakaran

The Ministry of Education must develop a comprehensive plan for SPM 2020.

With less than two months to SPM 2020, students and parents are still in the dark as to exactly how the most important national examination will go down. 

Schools are scheduled to reopen later this month, although the nationwide imposed recovery movement order (RMCO) has been extended to 31 March 2021. 

Coupled with the record-breaking rise in the number of Covid-19 cases daily, how will SPM 2020 take place? What are the mechanisms in place to ensure that each student is ready and able to sit for the exam safely? Almost 400,000 students sit for SPM annually. 

  1. Will the students and invigilators be required to undergo compulsory Covid testing prior to the exam?
  2. Will the students and invigilators be kept under quarantine from the start to the end of the exam period, to prevent infections from disrupting the examination? 
  3. Is there a disinfection plan and a quarantine period or plan in place should a student or invigilator get infected once exams have begun? During this period, will exams be delayed nationwide? Or will most students take the exam as per the schedule and the affected schools sit for an alternate paper at another time? 
  4. Will the students and invigilators who become close contacts with Covid-19 patients be allowed to sit for the exam or must they undergo the compulsory self-quarantine? Will they sit for their exams at their respective homes if they are forced to undergo a period of self-quarantine? 
  5. Are schools prepared to handle the students entering and exiting the exam halls while maintaining social distancing? 
  6. If an area goes under EMCO, will the exams in those affected schools continue? 

These are issues and questions that need to be answered by MOE now, so that students, parents and teachers can do the necessary in advance and be prepared. 

If SPM trials were to be used as a gauge, 15 per cent of schools (that are in red zones) have yet to conduct their exam, and those that have completed had to conduct some of the exams online, which raises the questions of fairness, transparency and honesty.

SPM has been deferred twice so far due to the pandemic and the rising number of Covid cases. I strongly urge MOE to come out with the mechanism and SOP for SPM 2020 and what is the back-up plan in case the exam has to be deferred again.

Is the future of our country going to be subjected to indefinite uncertainty or is MOE going to provide a firm solution that will ease the burden of anxiety off students and parents alike? The Ministry has had ample time to review the situation and develop a comprehensive plan for SPM 2020 and should not keep quiet any longer.

Rajiv Rishyakaran is Bukit Gasing State Assemblyman.

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