BEIJING, March 31 (Xinhua) -- China's national college entrance exam, also known as Gaokao, will be postponed by a month to July 7 and 8 due to the novel coronavirus disease epidemic, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said Tuesday.
Hubei Province, which was hit hard by the virus, and Beijing can put forward their proposals on the exam dates for their regions and publish the schedule after consulting and gaining approval from the MOE, according to an MOE statement.
The MOE made the decision in consideration of the safety of examinees and related personnel, said Wang Hui, an official with the MOE, at a press conference in Beijing.
Presently, the country has basically blocked the domestic transmission of the virus. However, the risks of sporadic cases and regional outbreaks still exist, said Wang, adding that China is faced with a mounting pressure of guarding against imported cases as the pandemic is spreading rapidly overseas.
"Postponing the exam by a month will lower the risks," Wang said.
He also said the postponement would ensure fairness for all examinees given that the outbreak had a bigger impact on students from rural areas.
Since the epidemic broke out, authorities ordered schools to extend winter breaks and asked students to study from home via online course platforms.
The gap in online study condition between urban and rural areas put rural students at a disadvantage, Wang said, noting that an extra month will allow better preparation for the exam.
Around 10.71 million applicants will sit for this year's exam, according to the MOE.