Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Saturday, June 07, 2003

College Entrance Exams Proceed on Schedule despite SARS

China has begun its two��day nationwide college entrance examinations under the waning shadow of the SARS epidemic.


China has begun its two��day nationwide college entrance examinations under the waning shadow of the SARS epidemic.

This is the first massive public event after the outbreak of the disease.

And in some of the hardest��hit areas of the country, such as Beijing and Guangdong, local governments and schools have been redoubling their efforts to ensure the safety of the students' health,in addition to administering the examinations.

For the students, this weekend marks one of the most important stages of their lives.

They are on the way to set the first of a series of college entrance exams.

It's regarded as a ticket for their future.But this year, the students not only endure the pressure of exams, but also the added inconvenience caused by SARS.

On Saturday morning, upon entering the school, each participant was first required to present a special health card to school authorities. The card displays the student's daily body temperature during the past two weeks.

Next, medical staff checked the body temperature of each student once again, one by one. These extra precautions were implemented to minimize any possibility of SARS��related infection.

"We'll take thorough health checks if any student has a body temperature above 38 degrees centigrade.

If it is diagnosed as a SARS case, we'll send the individual to a hospital.

If we are not sure, we'll let the student take the examination in a separate room, and then observe the student during the following several days," said Han Hong, medical worker.

So far, everything has been going well, with no one exhibiting signs of the illness. Some of the students say it's a unique experience.

"Besides studying, I also take time to do outdoors activities, such as playing badminton or tennis. SARS, of course, has influenced our daily life, and we have to adjust ourselves to the new situation," said a student.

Each classroom seats 20 students, 10 less than in previous years. Beijing has allocated an additional 1.25 million US dollars to implement this year's special exam arrangements.

"In order to effectively control SARS, we increased the exam sites from a total of 90 in the past to 212 this time, with an additional 1,600 exam rooms.

And the working staff have also increased to over 4,000," said Xian Lianping, deputy director of Beijing Municipal Education Committee.

The college entrance exams have long been regarded as a significant factor that determines a student's future development.It's even considered one of the turning points in their lives.

And this year's SARS epidemic has imposed even more pressure on the students than usual, due to a mandatory one month overhaul of classes just one month ahead of the exams.

However, some teachers say this is not necessarily a bad thing.

"I think this will help increase the student's ability to learn by themselves at home. It will be of benefit to them for the rest of their lives because study is a life��long journey," said Qiu Jilong, headmaster of Beijing No. 4 Middle School.

There are some 6 million students taking part in the examinations all across China. Simultaneously carrying on the tradition of the nationwide exams, as well as ensuring the safety of the students and faculties are equally pressing responsibilities as the nation stands vigilant in its battle against SARS.

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