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Schools prepare for exam season

TOKYO >> Universities across Japan are grappling with coronavirus safety measures as they head into entrance-exam season, when hundreds of thousands of high school students take tests to gain admission to universities.

Some schools are outsourcing administration of the exams because of an anticipated shortage of personnel. Some regional universities have decided against holding exams in Tokyo to avoid high case counts that could further spread the infection.

“How many people are needed for 20 venues?” asked Taro Inaba, president of NieV Co., during a staff meeting. The Tokyo-based company administers university exams.

In 2019, the company was contracted by two schools to handle examinations. In 2020, it received requests from more than seven. Schools need the assistance, since social distancing requires increased testing rooms — and more exam proctors. Some schools are seeking backup personnel in case of an outbreak among faculty.

“We will likely receive more inquiries,” Inaba said.

Meiji University decided to partially outsource proctors because student help usually fills those roles.

“Most of our classes are now held online,” said a school official. “In a situation such as this, we can’t ask students to come to the university to work part time for the entrance examinations.”

Tsuda University, which usually holds testing across the country, is cutting back mainly because of a lack of manpower. But Tokyo City University set up new exam sites to avoid crowding its campus. It expects to spend an additional $67,600 this year.

Entrance exams kick off this month.

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