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Socially Distanced In-Person Exam Sessions Held in US and Norway


With some states starting to relax restrictions on events and activities, the Grant County, Oregon, Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES®) held an in-person exam session on April 26 in the town of John Day that adhered to social distancing recommendations. Exam organizers held the gathering to within Oregon’s 10-person limit for gatherings, keeping everyone 6 feet apart and requiring all participants to wear face masks. The exam session was held outdoors under a car port.

“We had an exceptionally successful test session, with candidates passing exams at every amateur radio level,” said Ed Ellesson, AF7YX, the ARRL Volunteer Examiner Liaison for the Grant County Amateur Radio Club. Grant County Emergency Coordinator Steve Fletcher, K7AA, noted that many clubs had canceled their planned sessions due to the coronavirus pandemic. “Grant County decided to approach the problem by obeying all the restrictions but still holding the exam,” he said. “As a result, we had people come here from all over the state.”

In Oklahoma, the Mid-Del Amateur Radio Club, W5MWC, administered an open-air exam session on April 25 that held to social distancing guidelines. Over the course of the 3-hour session, 16 candidates tested and all were successful. One candidate passed all three exam elements to come away with his Amateur Extra-class license.

Another open-air amateur exam session took place recently in Norway. The LA3F radio amateur club south of Oslo had just completed its annual course for prospective radio amateurs, and three candidates were ready to take their exam when Norway began shutting down activities and gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Not to be deterred, International Amateur Radio Union Vice President Ole Garpestad, LA2RR, arranged with Norwegian regulatory authorities to hold an outdoor exam session compatible with the social distancing and other safety guidelines in place. Garpestad met with the three candidates in the forest outside a local scout cottage, and, with candidates seated at tables at least 5 meters (about 16 feet) apart, he administered the exam. With the temperature at around 10 °C (about 50 °F), everyone dressed warmly. Garpestad reported that all three candidates passed, and LA5EUA, LB8QI, and LB8RI were welcomed to the world of amateur radio. — Thanks to Steve Fletcher, K7AA, and Don Beattie, G3BJ, via IARU Region 1    



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