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Strict COVID protocols in place for February bar exam

The South Carolina Supreme Court is going to great lengths to ensure that February’s in-person bar exam doesn’t contribute to the spread of COVID-19 at a time when public health officials are worried about new and potentially more contagious variants of the virus.

In a Feb. 4 order signed by all five justices, the court laid out the protocols that would be put in place for applicants before, during, and after the exam, which is scheduled for Feb. 23 and 24.

Applicants were ordered to minimize their exposure to other persons for 14 days leading up to the exam, including avoiding public gatherings, group events, dine-in restaurants, and bars. Anyone using a plane, bus, or train to travel to South Carolina for the exam must do so at least 14 days beforehand. Applicants will also be required to take a COVID-19 test a few days before the exam, something that wasn’t required for the July exam due to a lack of available testing at the time.

On test day, applicants will be screened by medical personnel and required to wear masks both in and around the testing building and report any possible symptoms of COVID. The space devoted to testing rooms has been expanded significantly compared to previous exams to allow for more social distancing, and applicants must leave promptly once testing is finished each day.

Applicants who violate the protocols can be subject to discipline that could include being declared unfit for admission, being prohibited from using the results of the exam for admission, or being prevented from reapplying for admission for up to five years. Applicants who are unwilling to comply with the requirements should withdraw their applications, the order reads.

The court noted that it reserves the right to modify the order as necessary. Any modified order will be posted to the South Carolina Judicial Branch website.

Staff reports

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