Parents of St Anthony's school students unhappy that kids under HQO cannot take mid-year O-Levels

While the students can still sit for the same exam at the end of the year, some parents of the affected children have pointed out that this comes with downsides.

Nigel Chua | June 16, 2020, 04:11 PM

A student from St. Anthony's Canossian Secondary School was recently confirmed to have Covid-19.

47 students and 12 staff who had been in close contact with the student are currently on Leave of Absence by MOE or Home Quarantine Order (HQO) by the Ministry of Health (MOH).

All of the students, and the staff, have tested negative, according to updates from MOH.

Students barred from taking Mid-Year O-Level exams

However, the quarantined students are barred from taking the upcoming Mid-Year Mother Tongue Language (MTL) O-Level examinations.

This is because the students are still under HQO, and need to complete a second swab test before MOH lifts their quarantine order.

The affected students will be able to sit for the Year-End MTL exams, however.

This was explained in a letter from the school to parents of affected children, seen by Mothership.

Fiona Koh, the school's principal, confirmed with Mothership that the letter was sent to all parents of affected children.

The letter said that the school would ensure that the students are supported, and that parents can reach out to the school, should additional support be needed from Mother Tongue Language teachers.

Parents requested for children to be allowed to take the exam

Some Mothership readers, including parents of the children, reached out to communicate their concerns about the decision.

The parents said that the decision was "unfair", given that the students had worked hard to prepare for their Mid Year exams.

One parent who reached out to Mothership also sought to draw attention to an apparent discrepancy:

On one hand, quarantined students are disallowed from taking the exam as they had contact with a confirmed case, and could be infectious.

However, the student confirmed to have Covid-19 had a positive serological test result, which MOH said was indicative of the fact that she was infected during the Circuit Breaker period, and not after school re-opening.

This, the parent said, meant that there should be "even lesser risk of current students being affected by her".

Response from the school and MOE

The letter from the school acknowledged that some parents requested for their children to be allowed to take the exam.

Koh confirmed that MOE has been informed of the parents' appeals.

An MOE spokesperson confirmed that the ministry was aware of the appeals, and referred Mothership to FAQs on its website stating that students on HQO would not be allowed to sit for the exams.

This is "to ensure that schools and examination venues continue to remain a safe place for all", as "[t]he priority is to safeguard the wellbeing of students and examination personnel".

Students who don't sit for mid-year exam may sit for year-end exam

The Mid-Year exams, originally scheduled for June 1, 2020, have been rescheduled to this Thursday, June 18, 2020, in view of the changes to the academic calendar, according to FAQs on MOE's website.

Students who sit for the Mid-Year exam may choose to register to re-sit for Year-End exam after the release of their Mid-Year exam results, according to information on registration for the O-Level exams from the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB).

Students may also choose not to register for the year-end exam. This means that they will have one less exam to sit for at the Year-End exams.

For students who do not sit for the mid-year exam, this option will not available, as they will have only one attempt at taking the exam.

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