The Supreme Court of South Carolina
RE: COVID-19 Mitigation Measures for the July 2021
South Carolina Bar Examination
The July 2021 Bar Examination is scheduled to be conducted on July 27 and 28, 2021. As it did for the July 2020 and February 2021 Examinations, this Court has determined the July 2021 Bar Examination will be conducted as a live, in-person examination.
The purpose of this Order is to discuss mitigation measures for the July 2021 Bar Examination, including requirements for applicants both before and during the Examination. For the purposes of this order, an applicant is fully vaccinated if the applicant has received a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, or a second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, on or before July 13, 2021.
Since issuing our initial statement regarding this July 2021Examination,1 the COVID-19 infection rate in South Carolina has decreased significantly. Further, in response to a survey, an overwhelming majority of the applicants for this Examination indicate they will be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to the Examination.2
In light of this, and after consultation with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, we believe the spacing between applicants during the administration of the Examination can be reduced to six (6) feet as long as masks are worn by all applicants. Therefore, sufficient space will be available to test all applicants who have applied for the July 2021 Examination. Further, while applicants for the February 2021 Examination were required to take a COVID-19 test prior to the Examination, such testing will not be required for the July 2021 Examination.
To further minimize the risk, applicants will be divided into multiple testing groups. Each group will have its own testing space with a separate entrance, exit and bathroom facilities. Staggered start and end times will be used to minimize any interaction between the testing groups. Further, except as necessary to make announcements, all staff administering the Examination will wear masks and/or face shields during the Examination.
While this Court and its staff will take all necessary and appropriate measures to minimize the risk posed by COVID-19 during this Examination, the success of these measures is largely dependent on the actions of the applicants. Therefore, this order sets forth the mitigation measures which are applicable to applicants both before and during the Examination. Section (12) below imposes additional requirements for applicants who are not fully vaccinated.
(1) Wearing of Mask in the Testing Building. All applicants must wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth at all times while in the Testing Building, including while taking the Examination. The mask may be lifted as necessary to drink water or take medications. While masks will be made available to the applicants at the testing locations, applicants are strongly encouraged to find a mask that is comfortable to wear for an extended period, and to bring that mask to the Examination. Any mask supplied by an applicant will be subject to inspection.
(2) Wearing of Mask in Parking Lots, Sidewalks and Other Common Areas. A mask shall be worn at all times in the common areas surrounding the Testing Building, including any parking lots, driveways and sidewalks (both public and private).
(3) Maintaining Social Distancing. To the maximum extent possible, applicants must maintain six (6) feet of distance from other persons, including while waiting in line for medical screening or registration. This requirement applies inside the Testing Building, and to the parking lot, driveways, sidewalks and other common areas surrounding the Testing Building.
(4) Medical Screening and Applicants Exhibiting Symptoms of COVID-19.
(a) Temperature Screening. Prior to each session of the Examination, the temperature of each applicant will be taken. Any applicant who has a temperature of 100.4 Degrees Fahrenheit (38 Degrees Celsius) or higher will not be allowed to take the Examination. If at any point in the Examination, it is discovered that an applicant has a temperature of 100.4 Degrees Fahrenheit or higher, or an applicant otherwise exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 infection, the applicant's participation in the Examination will end.(5) Survey. To assist with the medical screening discussed above, applicants will be required to complete a survey a few days before the Examination. This survey will also contain questions relating to the applicant's adherence to the requirements of this order. This survey will be conducted using Survey Monkey. An applicant who fails to timely complete the survey may be excluded from the Examination.
(b) Screening for COVID-19 Symptoms. Prior to each session of the Examination, applicants will be screened for symptoms of COVID-19. Based on symptoms exhibited during this screening, applicants may, on a case-by-case basis, be prohibited from entering the Testing Building to take the Examination.
(c) Reporting Symptoms. If an applicant experiences symptoms of COVID-19 (including fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, and/or new loss of sense of taste or smell) during the Examination, the applicant must immediately notify the staff administering the Examination. Based on symptoms exhibited during this screening, applicants may, on a case-by-case basis, be prohibited from continuing with the Examination.
(6) Lunch Break. It is anticipated that no food or beverage will be available for purchase at the testing site. Therefore, applicants may want to pack a lunch or snack which can be available to them in their vehicle during the lunch break. Applicants are prohibited from congregating during the lunch break.
(7) Use of Hand-Sanitizer and Disinfecting Testing Table/Chair. Hand-sanitizer dispensers will be available throughout the Testing Building, including the area where the medical screening will be conducted. Applicants are encouraged to use hand-sanitizer frequently. Further, on each day of the Examination, each applicant will be provided with a small bottle of hand-sanitizer for personal use. While the testing tables and chairs will be disinfected before the first session of the Examination, applicants may be asked to sanitize the surfaces of their individual testing table and chair at the end of each testing session. Appropriate disinfecting materials will be provided.
(8) Visiting Restrooms in Testing Building. Applicants are asked to thoroughly wash their hands upon entering and leaving the restrooms. The facilities in some restrooms may be blocked off to help ensure proper social distancing.
(9) Interaction Between Testing Groups. As indicated above, the applicants will be divided into multiple testing groups. From the start of the Examination until the Examination is concluded on the last day, applicants should avoid any contact with a person in another testing group. This shall not apply to applicants who are members of the same household, including roommates.
(10) Applicants Must Promptly Leave After Testing is Completed for the Day. At the conclusion of the testing for each day, applicants must promptly leave the Testing Building and its associated parking lots and common areas. Congregating in parking lots or other common areas is prohibited.
(11) Applicants Returning From Foreign Travel. An applicant who has traveled outside the United States prior to the Examination must return to the United States at least fourteen (14) days prior to the Examination. This requirement is necessary due to the increased risk of infection during international travel.
(12) Additional Requirements for Applicants Who Are Not Fully Vaccinated. Applicants who are not fully vaccinated must minimize their exposure to other persons for fourteen (14) days prior to the Examination, and until the Examination is completed. This includes avoiding public gatherings, group events, dining-in in restaurants, visiting bars, and shopping in stores for non-essential items or services. To the maximum extent possible, these applicants should limit their exposure to members of their immediate households, including roommates. Further, if in public or in other situations where exposure to non-household members is possible, applicants must wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth, and maintain social distancing of at least six (6) feet from these persons.
(13) Applicants Precluded from Continuing with the Examination. An applicant who is not permitted to take or continue to take the Examination under Section 4(a) - (c) above will be allowed to take the February 2022 Examination without any additional fee. This will not apply to an applicant who is not allowed to take the examination based on a failure to complete the survey referenced in Section 5 above.
If it is determined that an applicant taking the July 2021 Examination has violated the requirements set forth above, this Court may take such action as it deems appropriate. This may include, but is not limited to, finding the applicant unfit for admission, prohibiting the applicant from using the results of the Examination for admission, and/or preventing the applicant from reapplying for admission for up to five (5) years. Further, if the applicant has already been admitted, the Supreme Court may vacate the admission or discipline the lawyer.
By proceeding to take the Examination, each applicant acknowledges and voluntarily assumes all risk of exposure to or infection with COVID-19 and the possibility that such exposure or infection may result in personal injury, illness, permanent disability, or death. Further, by appearing for this Examination, the applicant is certifying his or her full compliance with the requirements of this Order.
Any applicant who is unwilling to fully comply with the requirements contained in this Order should withdraw his or her application to sit for the July 2021 Bar Examination.
The Court reserves the right to modify this Order as necessary. Any modified Order will be posted to the South Carolina Judicial Branch Website. Further, during the administration of the Examination, the Clerk of this Court, and such staff members as he may designate, may permit deviations from this Order as may be necessary.
s/Donald W. Beatty C.J.
s/John W. Kittredge J.
s/Kaye G. Hearn J.
s/John Cannon Few J.
s/George C. James, Jr. J.
Columbia, South Carolina
June 18, 2021
2 This Court does continue to strongly encourage all applicants to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to the start of the Examination.