What Made It Possible for Georgia? — Examinations 2020 During the COVID-19 Pandemic

While many countries made a major decision to postpone or cancel high stakes examinations during the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgia decided to take the precautionary measures and run the exams.  

The examination process in Georgia continued for nearly the entire month. During this period the Unified National Examinations, the Students’ Grant Competition, the Master’s Graduate Entry Examinations, and the Teacher Certification Examinations were held. The number of examination centers had been increased to follow the safety recommendations and place no more than 10 applicants in an examination room. This period has been a great challenge for the National Assessment and Examinations Center first, because of the responsibility to ensure the safety of approximately 70 000 applicants overall, and second, because of the responsibility to ensure the social health wouldn’t worsen.

The commission comprised of corresponding state authorities and supervised by the Prime Minister adopted the recommendations To prevent the spread of COVID-19, maximize the health protection of examinees, and simultaneously ensure high-quality management of an examination process.

Although the epidemic situation had a great impact on the examination process, the examination process didn’t impact the epidemic situation. There has been a case when an applicant who took the Unified National Examination on July 7 tested positive for the coronavirus. All preventive measures had been taken as fast as possible, the applicant was placed in quarantine and took the rest of the exams in line with the rules there. All individuals who took the exam with the applicant or had contact with her had been identified and taken under the supervision of doctors. NAEC strongly believes that the spread of disease was avoided because the safety recommendations had been followed urgently and strictly during the whole examination process as well as in this particular case.

Amiran Gamkrelidze, the general director of the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health summed the process up. According to him, even though national exams represented large social gatherings, the epidemic situation in a country hasn’t worsened.

“I’d like to inform you that our country successfully passed this exam. The spread of infection hasn’t occurred” — said Gamkrelidze.

The fact that the month-long examination process with large social gatherings ended without major complication and the pandemic outbreak shows that the issued safety recommendations were adequate and absolutely necessary to deliver the result Georgia now has. It also shows that everyone responsible for the administration of the exams worked hard, were devoted, and strictly followed the safety recommendations.

Safety Protocol for Conducting Examinations During COVID-19

Recommendations for the National Assessment and Examinations Center to Safely Organize the Examinations 2020 During the New Coronavirus Infection (COVID-19)

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, maximize the health protection of examinees and simultaneously ensure high-quality management of an examination process, the commission comprised of corresponding state authorities and supervised by the Prime Minister has been created.  As a result of a coordinated work of the commission members, the rules concerning the safe administration of the Unified National Examinations, the Master’s Graduate Entry Examinations, the Teacher Certification Examinations, and the Students’ Grant Competition have been adopted.

According to the recommendations of the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC), examinees and observers are allowed to occupy only 50% of the area in each examination sector. The examination desks’ front sides should be equipped with transparent barriers/shields; the examination desks should be placed at least 2 meters apart from each other and the distance between the examination desks in each line should be at least 1 meter.

Examination desk shields, thermal screening, proper distancing, and strict observance of every recommendation concerning the prevention of the spread of  COVID-19 made it possible to allow examinees to write the exam without wearing a face mask once they take their seats at their respective examination desks.

In accordance with the recommendations of the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), air conditioners have been allowed alongside the natural ventilation (open window). If the room temperature reaches or exceeds 30 Celsius, air conditioning can be turned on. However, in such cases, everyone in the examination room must wear a face mask.

When air conditioning is allowed, the rules listed below must be followed:

  1. Physical distancing;
  2. The Mandatory rule regarding hand hygiene;
  3. Respiratory hygiene  i.e. cough etiquette;
  4. Mandatory rule to wear a face mask;
  5. The airflow coming out of the conditioners should not be directed at the people in the examination room; 
  6. The windows of the examination room must be open at all times. It is mandatory  no matter the air conditioners are turned on or off because the risk of spreading the virus is high in the closed space;
  7. The re-circulation of the air is prohibited.

Under instructions issued by the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia and by the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC), face masks must be worn by the examinees in the examination center during the situations specified below (exceptions are the examinees whose body temperature is 37 °C or higher and/or the examinees with any other respiratory symptoms. These examinees must wear face masks at all times during their presence at the examination center):

  1. Before taking their seats at the examination desks;
  2. While leaving the examination sector;
  3. While communicating with others;
  4. While the air conditioner is turned on.

The examination personnel must wear face masks at all times. The personnel responsible for thermal screening must also wear transparent face shields and observe strict hygiene rules.

All medical facilities in the examination centers are equipped with first aid kits. The emergency vehicles, ambulance, and police patrol cars are mobilized on the premises.

For a more detailed review of the recommendations noted above, you can visit the official website of the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia.