The PSAT test, typically administered to juniors in October via the College Board, is still scheduled to take place in-person this year. Approximately 213 students signed up to take the test, which will be held on January 26. Most of the tests will be administered in the 100s, 400s, and 600s wings on campus.
“We are abiding by all CDC protocols. In order to prioritize the safety of our students and staff, students will be asked health screening questions at the door. And we are also staggering the start times to spread out the number of students that arrive on campus,” said Assistant Principal Daniella Quiñones. “We don’t want students congregating and clustering.”
Quiñones stressed the importance of social distancing and sanitization, noting that the school has taken measures to reduce the spread by spacing desks six or more feet apart, limiting test-takers to 12 per room, and providing hand sanitizer for each room, as well as ensuring that no student with symptoms of COVID-19 can take the test.
Additionally, the district recently installed hospital-grade MERV-13 filters in the HVAC system, and proctors have been instructed to leave the door and two windows open to increase air flow, which prevents possible contamination from being passed from student to student. Bathrooms, which only have one entrance, will be limited to one student at a time. Although Quiñones noted that this may lead to long lines, she said that these precautions will ultimately keep students and staff as safe as possible.
To students who … didn’t feel comfortable coming on campus to test, or who missed the signup window, there are other ways that one could qualify for the National Merit program.
As for proctors, while around 25 parents signed up to volunteer, very few were able to be cleared, as the volunteering process is rigorous.
“[The volunteer vetting process] is quite a few steps. It does require parents to provide a Tuberculosis clearance test, to have their fingerprints cleared by a designated party, usually at a police station, and to watch a mandatory training video,” Quiñones said. Parents of test-takers are also unable to proctor tests, as mandated by College Board, to avoid biases.
While the testing will certainly look different than in previous years, from the numerous health and safety precautions to the new testing date, Quiñones noted that this year, College Board has integrated other options for students interested in qualifying for the National Merit Scholar program.
“To students who are not able to take the PSAT, didn’t feel comfortable coming on campus to test, or who missed the signup window, there are other ways that one could qualify for the National Merit program,” Quiñones said. “College Board has made an exception this year, and instructions for that are posted on the College Board website. Make sure to visit if you’re interested.”