GCSE and A-level exams could be delayed because of coronavirus

File photo dated 09/01/17 of students sitting their exams. Students in the UK are continuing to lag behind their peers from tiny European countries such as Estonia and Finland when it comes to maths, reading and science, a bellwether study of global education trends has suggested.
Dozens of schools have already been closed because of the virus. (PA)

GCSE and A-Level students could see their exams postponed if coronavirus continues to spread, education figures have warned.

Exam boards are said to be drawing up emergency measures over fears the outbreak will reach its peak during the busy exam period.

The exam regulator Ofqual is working with the boards to weigh up potential scenarios and and consider alternative exam dates, according to The Times.

A decision is expected to be taken shortly since GCSEs and A-level exams are due to start on May 11 and finish in mid-June.

A man on the Jubilee line on the London Underground tube network wearing a protective facemask.
A man on the Jubilee line on the London Underground tube network wearing a protective facemask. (PA)

“We recognise that students, parents, schools and colleges will be concerned about the possible impact of coronavirus on the 2020 summer exam series,” Ofqual said.

“Our advice is to continue to prepare for exams as normal. Our overriding priorities are fairness and keeping disruption to a minimum.”

Read more: Rishi Sunak: NHS will get whatever it needs to deal with coronavirus

The regulator is reportedly planning to allow pupils who underperform because of the virus “special consideration” when deciding their grades.

While those unable to take an exam will reportedly be graded based on earlier papers.

At least 40 schools with suspected victims have closed in recent weeks, despite the government advising against closures.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said schools should not be closing unless there is both a positive case and the school has had the advice to close from Public Health England.

Official advice from Public Health England and the Department for Education states even if a case of Covid-19 is confirmed within a school “in most cases, closure of the childcare or education setting will be unnecessary”.

Read more: Coronavirus: Chaos as Italy suddenly puts 16 million people on lockdown until April

And if a pupil has been in contact with a confirmed case, the advice is to self-isolate at home for 14 days.

The rest of the school does not need to take any precautions or make any changes to their own activities attending educational establishments or work as usual, unless they become unwell, according to official advice.