EDIT: Under new guidelines students who test positive for COVID-19 will be allowed to write their exams, albeit in isolation and under extra invigilation. Read more about this change here.

The original story follows below.


Tomorrow, 5th November, Matrics begin the exam season after many delays in the school year caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19), but what happens to students who have contracted the disease?

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has outlined procedures for this in a variety of official Tweets.

As expected Matrics who test positive for COVID-19 will not be allowed to write their exams in an effort to keep them, their fellow students, and those administering the exam, safe.

“If you cannot write or complete your 2020 examinations because of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis you have an opportunity to write in May/June 2021. The May/June examination will be open for anyone to write selected subjects or all subjects,” one of the tweets reads.

This May / June period is obviously months after the regular exam schedule. After 5th November exams will be written until 15th December, with results then released on 22nd January.

It’s worth noting at this point that schools and other exams venues will not be administering any tests, but will only check temperatures of students as they arrive. In a separate announcement the department states that students who record high temperatures of 38 degrees Celsius or more will still be allowed to write their exams but will need to do so in isolation. After writing their exam students with these high temperatures will be “referred to for medical attention”.

This same announcement also revealed that social distancing had been reduced from two metres to one metre in an effort to accommodate the more than a million students planned to write these exams – the largest amount in the history of the country.

It’s also worth noting here that, if a positive COVID-19 result comes in while a learner is already writing their exam, they will not be allowed to finish. The department does not provide further details about this scenario, however.

“It is a learner’s responsibility to report concerning symptoms to the school authorities in time and to present themselves for testing. Failure to report a positive COVID-19 diagnosis to the school while writing exams is an offence that carries legal consequences,” the DBE continued.