Coronavirus: Turkish students fear infections as govt insist on nationwide exams

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Turkish students took to social media to protest upcoming nationwide university entrance exams over fears that the government-mandated exams risk spreading coronavirus to the 2.5 million students expected to sit for the tests.

The Higher Education Institutions Examinations, known in Turkey as the YKS, is an annual exam taken by graduating high school students ahead of university placements. Initially, the government mulled taking the tests online and postponing them until July.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed that the YKS exams would be going ahead on June 27 and 28 instead of earlier plans for July.

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Many students across Turkey began to voice their concerns on Twitter during the past several days under the “#TurkishStudentLivesMatter” hashtag, saying that the Turkish government was endangering their lives by going ahead of the planned tests.

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“There are 2.5 million YKS students around the country that are going to take this exam at the same time. They’ll seat us in compacted, muggy, and enclosed classrooms with a minimum of 17 students in it along with watcher teachers (900,000 are commissioned, two for each class) and security guards (545,000 are commissioned all around the country, 5 for each school),” wrote Twitter user @hunwtz in a post that has gained more than 400 retweets so far.

“The government even announced that students will be seated right next to each other. What happened to the five feet apart rule that was put in place just months prior? Not to mention the fact that the exams were actually postponed to July, but were instead put back in June because the Ministry of Tourism was more concerned about money rather than the children taking the exams and their own country’s citizens being in the public in general,” she added.

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The number of new coronavirus cases in Turkey rose to 1,562 on Sunday, according to Health Ministry data, almost double the level to which they had fallen in early June when Ankara lifted travel restrictions and reopened facilities.

So far, Turkey’s death toll due to coronavirus stands at 4,807 people dead after 15 more patients died in the past 24 hours.

“We tried so hard more than 40 days for to be heard by the government. But they didn’t care us. An exam was held yesterday. After the exam we learned that some students have COVID-19. The exams during the pandemic must be postponed,” Twitter user Rigor Moris wrote.

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