Hungary's pupils back in class for exams

Nick Thorpe, BBC News

Budapest school exam, 4 May 20
Exams at Szerb Antal secondary school in Budapest

In Hungary 84,000 pupils were back in classrooms on Monday to sit their high school exams, despite the country's lockdown.

Most appeared relieved that the exams were not postponed, but teachers’ unions and parents voiced concerns that pupils and staff might spread coronavirus.

Written exams have been condensed into two weeks, and no oral exams will be held.

The mood was festive outside the Bela Bartok music gymnasium in central Budapest. Pupils who hadn’t seen each other for six weeks gathered in their best clothes, bumping elbows or knuckles in greeting, but there was no hugging or kissing.

They filed into classrooms one by one, and about half wore face masks. At some schools police patrolled to enforce social distancing, but not here.

Inside, seven students sat in each classroom. Masks were not compulsory during the exam, although supervisors kept theirs on.

The main teachers’ union was not consulted by the government, and opposed the decision to go ahead with the exams.

With 3,000 known coronavirus infections and 350 deaths, the peak has still not been reached in Hungary.