South Africa, Cape Town – South African Comprehensive Assessment Institute (Sacai) barred a matric pupil from writing her exams after she tested positive for Covid-19.
Sacai’s policies and guidelines do not make provision for candidates who tested positive for Covid-19 to write at their facilities, except after the 10-day isolation period, according to the school’s correspondence with the learners’ mother.
At public schools, Grade 12 learners, who test positive for Covid-19, are allowed to write their final National Senior Certificate (NSC) exam, but in isolation, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) said.
The DBE and Department of Health agreed that learners with Covid-19 should not be exempt from writing their finals and on special protocols to accommodate those pupils.
The mom said she had developed mild Covid-19 symptoms and went to get tested with her daughter (whose identity she asked to be withheld) as they were planning to travel after writing her last exam on Monday.
The mom’s results came out negative on Friday, while her daughter tested positive. “We figured out that she must have already been positive for some time as she had a blocked nose two weeks ago but no other symptoms.
“The doctor reckons that this must have been the start of the Covid infection. As she had no other symptoms, she carried on writing her exam. Therefore the 10 days are already over.
“I informed the school of her status, expecting there would be a solution prepared for a case like this.
“To my surprise, there is no mitigation plan. The only answer of the head invigilator is that she can write again in 2021,” she said.
Sacai said an official response would be made today.
The mom said she also shared with the invigilator and Sacai a clearance letter from a doctor who said her daughter was not contagious anymore and was fit to write.
The mom now wants answers about why her daughter was prevented from writing her remaining subject, while learners who were allegedly in contact with her child were allowed to finish their exams.
“I don’t believe that this sends the right message to our learners. Exceptional times like this require exceptional and innovative solutions and should encourage the right behaviours.
“Ironically she may have been infected during exams when other students may have attended the exams who were infectious be it knowingly or unknowingly,” she said.
“My daughter was planning to study overseas and was going to leave at the end of January.
“All plans were made and now we can cancel everything because Sacai has no plan in place.
“I would like them to give her the chance to write her final exam. I even offered to pay for an extra invigilator and room hire.”
In email correspondence with the mother, Imaad Isaacs, the principal of Futures Academy, SACAI’s examination venue in Cape Town, said that since the mom indicated that the learner was and is currently still asymptomatic, the policy dictated that the isolation period was to be counted from the date of testing (that is, December 4). Only after which the candidate may continue to write the remaining exams.
“In light of the above, she (the pupil) will unfortunately not be accommodated at the examination centre.
“Please note that we have considered all possible alternatives, including the possibility of writing at our other centre. Unfortunately, the policies and guidelines do not make provision for candidates who tested positive to write at our facilities, except after the 10-day isolation period,” Isaacs said.
She would be permitted to write the Sacai supplementary exam in March/ April subject to the submission of medical evidence in support of absenteeism, he added.
“We sympathise with how unfortunate this situation is for her. However, we are obligated to follow the policies in effect for the protection of all staff and students.”