Matrics in five provinces tested positive for Covid-19 on the first day of their final exams.
This is according to the department’s head of assessments, Rufus Poliah, who briefed parliament on Tuesday on its exam system readiness.
For the first time in the country’s history, more than 1 million candidates will sit for the exams.
This is because they are combined exams that will also cater for candidates who were meant to sit for the May/June exams, which were cancelled after the country went into lockdown because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The department said all the positive cases were handled well and within health and hygiene protocols as stipulated by the health department.
Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Free State and Limpopo all reported cases of Covid-19.
Basic education minister, Angie Motshekga said three pupils in KZN 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.
“We are encouraged by the level of maturity and responsibility shown by our candidates in KZN”, Motshekga said.
The Class of 2020 sat for the English home language, first additional language and second additional language paper 1 exam.
“We work in conjunction with Umalusi [Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training] every step of the way to ensure we meet with the high standards set by Umalusi.”
He said provinces had completed the training of chief invigilators and are conducting invigilator training.
According to his presentation, there is strict adherence to Covid-19 protocols in provinces where the face-to-face modality is used to train invigilators in cluster groupings.
Provinces have also appointed private invigilators to manage the administration of the exams at designated centres. They were trained together with chief invigilators by the head office exams staff. The provinces have completed the audit of examination centres.
Poliah said if an exam centre is regarded as high-risk, there will be a resident monitor based at that centre for the duration of the exams.
“If the centre is medium-risk, we have a roving monitor who will be there and manage a cluster of centres.”
One of the challenges identified was the shortage of writing venues, and provinces had identified nearby primary schools and community centres.
Parents and pupils will sign a commitment agreement to ensure pupils and parents are made aware of the consequences if pupils are implicated in irregularities.