The final stretch: HSC students take coronavirus exam conditions in their stride

After a tumultuous year, the end is in sight for year 12 students sitting their final exams over the next few weeks.

Having adapted all year to the changing circumstances wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, the year 12 cohort have again taken the pre-exam COVID protocols in their stride.

Winmalee High captain Lily Patterson acknowledged it was stressful sitting six exams, and the countdown was on to completion.

"We are so glad that it's finally here and that we are doing it," she said. "I'm glad the wait is over."

"As a whole, the year 12 cohort has accepted the circumstances. This is the hand we've been dealt and we have just got to deal with it," she said.

Of the 105 students sitting exams at Winmalee High, just those doing English and maths have been broken into two groups to sit the exam due to the cap of 75 students in an exam room.

Students are not allowed onsite until 20 minutes before the exam and they sign a health declaration that they have no flu-like symptoms.

If they had picked up a cold beforehand, HSC students' coronavirus test results are being fast-tracked, and they can apply to sit the exam at a later date if they are ill.

There are also contingency plans in place, so exams can continue at Ellison Public or Winmalee Public in the event of a positive COVID-19 case confirmed during exams.

"There's been a lot of underlying added pressure to getting into the exam before they've even started," Winmalee High's relieving principal Voula Facas said.

"How they bear the brunt of all these little changes, that's testament to how well they have moved through this year."

Vice captain Josh Sneesby said the pandemic had taught them to be resilient.

"We've all been able to bounce back harder than we have been hit," he said.

"COVID did not dictate our lives. We turned it around," Lily said.

They were all looking forward to the formal on November 17, relieved the premier had allowed term 4 formals to continue.

"It's the golden star at the end of the year to cap it off and we can celebrate for the last time," said school captain Jackson McGrath.

Meanwhile at Blaxland High, new principal Emma Le Marquand said the 111 students sitting the HSC were well versed in COVID protocols.

"The students have had a year of strict protocols. They understand social distancing and sanitising," she said.

Additional cleaning is carried out in the exam rooms in the middle of the day between exams, and their backup venues are Glenbrook Public and Springwood High.

"Year 12 are amazing - really resilient. They are really flexible, taking everything in their stride," Ms Le Marquand said.

While some students seemed a bit nervous about sitting the HSC exams, she described the year 12 cohort as "emotionally quite well and presenting quite upbeat."

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said the strict measures in place ensured students' health and safety were protected.

"School communities have done an outstanding job this year, not only in preparing students to do their best in exams, but also preparing COVID-safe exam processes to keep everyone involved safe," Ms Mitchell said.

Students will receive their HSC results on December 18.

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