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May 2021 2nd edition

COVID-19 support for positive matric learners

Written by: More Matshediso

Matrics will still be able to write their final exams if they test positive for COVID-19. 

The departments of Health and Basic Education (DBE) are working together to ensure that matric learners who test positive for the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) or are a close contact of a positive case, can write their final National Senior Certificate examinations if they are well enough to do so. 

The number of cases is expected to be small and each case should be dealt with individually. This will require close collaboration between health and education officials at provincial, district and local levels. 

A circular issued by the Department of Department of Health states that these learners are expected to self-isolate at home or in an isolation or quarantine facility, in line with current guidelines, and will only be permitted to leave isolation or quarantine to write their exams.

They will write at a different venue and under secure conditions that comply with exam regulations. 

According to the circular: 

  • The venue should be well ventilated, allow for appropriate physical distancing and be cleaned daily in line with the DBE's COVID-19 protocols. 
  • Compliance with physical distancing, the wearing of masks, hand-washing and other hygiene practices are critical. Compliance must be ensured before, during and after an exam. 
  • Invigilators must also comply with the regulations and be provided with medical masks. 
  • The DBE remains responsible for conducting and overseeing the exams and will provide guidance regarding the collection and management of exam papers.

Arrangements must be made to ensure that learners do not pose a transmission risk to others during travel to and from the venue. They can walk or use private transport. Where these options are not possible, health and education officials should work together to provide alternative arrangements. 

The DBE has also issued a circular and sent protocols to schools for the management of possible and confirmed COVID-19 cases during the exams, as many who become infected will be asymptomatic and unaware that they are infected. 

The key to limiting transmission is to ensure physical distancing, wearing of masks and appropriate hygiene practices.

Parents or guardians must inform the school principal immediately if their child tests positive, so that arrangements can be made to write at an isolation venue.