Rules about what to bring into an HSC exam are strict: black pens, water in a clear bottle, and an approved calculator. When exams begin on Tuesday next week, there will be one more rule. Students will have to wear a face mask.
After flagging his hope that year 12 would not have to cover their faces during exams, which could be irritating for those doing tests lasting up to three hours, Premier Dominic Perrottet on Friday said they would remain compulsory for students.
If a vaccinated student wore a mask, they would be considered a casual rather than a close contact, meaning they would not have to isolate for two weeks and miss other exams, Mr Perrottet told 2GB radio. “I feel incredibly sorry for the students, they’ve gone through enough already to have this imposed on them,” he said.
The rule applies to all students, regardless of their school sector. Even students at The King’s School, which, unlike other sectors, did not mandate masks for high schoolers when schools re-opened, would be required to wear them for the HSC. Refusal would be a violation of HSC rules.
The masks will also protect elderly supervisors, Mr Perrottet said.
“The reason [HSC authorities] highly recommends it, is that if there is a COVID-19 outbreak at a school, one of the determining factors in whether students would need to isolate is whether they are wearing a mask,” Mr Perrottet said.
The association of private school principals and the NSW Association of Independent Schools endorsed the decision, saying masks could be uncomfortable but would protect supervisors, staff and students.
“We also acknowledge that the conduct of the examinations has been particularly difficult this year with the need for more supervisors, alternate venues and additional markers, as well as the frequent changes to rules throughout the year,” they said in a statement.
One supervisor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said many would withdraw if masks had not been mandated. Rosters were prepared well in advance of the exams. “To lose a significant proportion of supervisors now would create chaos,” they said.
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