The 2020 matric exams kicked off yesterday and the government has reported that they have occurred “without any major incidents”, despite several provinces experiencing COVID-19-related problems during the writing of the papers.

In an official governmental communication entitled “Matric exams off to a smooth start” it is revealed that cases of the disease appeared in the Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo in relation to the examinations.

“In KwaZulu-Natal, three learners reported their diagnosis to the school authorities and used a separate gate to enter the school premises. They were accommodated in a separate isolation room and provided with an invigilator, who observed the health and hygiene protocols at all times… According to the health and hygiene protocols, the invigilator sits five metres from the leaners in a well ventilated room… Upon completion of the examination, the invigilator uses latex gloves to put the answer sheet in a sealable plastic bag. The plastic bag is then sanitized and put with the rest of the batch,” reports the official SAnews site.

The Department of Basic Education, as well as the Department of Health announced shortly before the exams began, that students who test positive for the coronavirus would still be allowed to write, instead of being deferred to May/June 2021 as originally planned.

This is one of many concessions that the government has put in place to allow the exams to continue. In addition those with high temperatures recorded at exam venues are still allowed to write (albeit in isolation), and the social distancing measures have been reduced from two metres to one.

On 5th November, the first day of the exams, South Africa as a whole experienced 1 712 new COVID-19 infections across the country, and 46 fatalities.

The 2020 Matric exam season enters its second day today, 6th November. Students will write papers until 15th December and they will receive their results next year on 22nd January.