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Hawaii bar exam applicants granted more time to defer test

HONOLULU — Bar exam applicants in Hawaii have been granted more time to decide whether to take the in-person exam or defer the test to a later date with no additional fee after concerns over the coronavirus.

The Hawaii Supreme Court issued an order Friday to extend the deadline for students to make their decision by Sept. 9, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported. The original deadline was July 28.

The Hawaii bar exam is scheduled for Sept. 9 and 10 in a 59,000-square-foot (5,500-square-meter) exhibition hall at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu after being postponed from its original dates of July 28 and 29.

Those who defer the test may pursue a provisional license, which is good through July 1, 2022, officials said.

There are currently 120 students enrolled, officials said. Up to 200 applicants typically test the bar exam.

Students raised concerns about the risk of COVID-19 in testing conditions that would leave them sitting in the same room for eight hours each day.

Department of Health Director Bruce Anderson agreed saying he “did not think it was wise to have 200 people to sit in a single classroom together for 16 hours over two days given the high prevalence of COVID in Hawaii today.”

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

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