PETALING JAYA: The air was filled with quiet tension as over 400,000 nervous Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) 2020 candidates entered their examination centres nationwide on Monday (Feb 22) morning.
Each and every one of them had to show their examination slips before undergoing a health screening including temperature scanning before they were allowed to enter their school grounds.
This was part of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) they had to follow under the hawk-eyed gaze of the teachers present to monitor their compliance, as the threat of Covid-19 literally remains in the air.
Checks by The Star at several schools revealed that the majority of candidates showed up in school between 6.30am to 7am.
As some stepped out solo from their vehicles, others came in groups of three or four and although the school’s entrance was crowded, candidates took care to maintain physical distancing as they waited their turn to have their temperatures taken before making their way to their respective exam halls.
This is a very different scene from past years, where some candidates would gather in groups, poring over their notes at the last minute and asking each other questions to ensure they are prepared for the national examinations.
Still, after months of anxiety, these candidates finally were handed their Bahasa Melayu Paper 1 question sheet and will spend the next two hours and 15 minutes completing the first core paper of their SPM.
These same students had been doing mostly self-study as the movement control order kept them at home for most of the 2020 academic year, the most important year of their secondary school lives.
Now, it is time to see if doing mostly home-based teaching and learning with a smattering of face-to-face lessons during the brief moment schools were open is enough for these students to do well in the SPM.