Puerto Rico Colleges May Relax Admission Requirements


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By Mivette Vega

December 2, 2020

Teachers and nonprofit organizations are concerned about students and faculty being exposed to COVID-19 during the standard testing process.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico—Thousands of local public school students are taking the College Board exam this week amid the uptick in COVID-19 the island is experiencing. 

Eligio Hernández, Department of Education (DE) secretary, said safety measures have been in place during the standard testing process. As an example, he pointed out how private school students took tests in November without consequence.

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On Tuesday afternoon, DE announced 3,597 students took the test in 70% of the schools that have reported.

The Puerto Rico Teachers Association, however, has expressed concern because of the high level of COVID cases the island has been seeing since October.

“From the moment the matter was first brought to us, we expressed our concerns in terms of the number of infections, and in terms of safety measures that would be in place to protect the health and safety of teachers, staff, and students,” Grichelle Toledo Correa, the association’s general secretary, told El Nuevo Día.

On Tuesday, Mesa Social, a nonprofit organization, asked all of Puerto Rico’s colleges to eliminate the College Board test results requirement for new students.

“The figures presented by the Health Department indicate a large part of the island’s municipalities is at a medium or high level of contagion,” the organization wrote in a statement. “Bringing students and teaching staff together in the same space could turn each classroom into a breeding ground for new outbreaks, at a time when the availability of adult beds in hospitals is less than 50%.”


Jorge Haddock Acevedo, University of Puerto Rico director, asked the governing board of his institution on Tuesday to make admission requirements more flexible for incoming students in the new year.

The president recommended the grade point average (GPA) earned by high school students be the sole requirement for admittance to college.

Traditionally, Puerto Rico’s universities require standardized test results from the College Board, or a Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) to admit new students. Haddock said they were evaluating some weeks ago whether admission requirements could be adjusted.

“This matter has already been discussed with the rectors, and the 11 units of the university system have been consulted because such determination requires the review of institutional policies by the governing bodies,” Haddock said in a press release.

Students of the public school system have faced great difficulties in recent years. In 2017, many were affected by the damages caused by Hurricane María, leaving thousands without classes as schools were rehabilitated.

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Students from the southern region of the island have not gone to school for almost a year due to a series of earthquakes still affecting the island, which have destroyed most of the schools in the area.

Since March, all students have been attending virtual classes because of the pandemic. Those in the public school system have grappled with additional difficulties due to a lack of internet access and computers. To date, the Department of Education has not delivered computers to all its 281,577 enrolled students.




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