COLUMBIA – The Missouri bar exam began Tuesday, despite concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two-day exam will be held at two separate locations. One test will take place in the Holiday Inn Executive Center in Columbia, and the other will take place in the Tan-Tar-A Conference Center in Osage Beach.
Broc Exposito took the exam today in Columbia.
“I have a mother at home who is immunocompromised, so I did not want to expose her,” said Exposito.
Exam organizers and takers said they were well-prepared for both the exam, and the virus.
“We had the health department here yesterday to check everything,” said Andrea Spillars, the Executive Director of the Board of Law Examiners. “We’ve done everything the guidance has provided to us.”
Some of those taking the bar exam said they were just ready to take the first step toward their career.
“I do think that it does speak volumes for those who are overcoming these circumstances and still able to do the test and pass and be successful in our legal careers,” said Shonte Jamison, who also took the exam today.
Applicants taking the exam signed a code of conduct agreement, affirming that they will comply with the following:
- Make every effort possible to maintain social distance (minimum of six feet) throughout the administration of the exam, including during screen, registration, testing, and breaks
- Agree to wear a protective face mask that covers the nose and mouth
- Agree to wear the mask during the administration of the exam, including during screen, registration, testing, and breaks.
- This includes a few exemptions
- Agree to follow appropriate respiratory hygiene/cough etiquette during the examination
- Agree to report information to Board staff if the examiner develops symptoms of of COVID-19
- Providing an emergency contact in the event the examiner becomes symptomatic during the exam
- Agree to comply with contact tracing instructions conveyed by public health officials
Students will not be allowed to enter the testing area if they have done the following:
- Traveled to any foreign country within the 20 days prior to the exam
- Reside or have close contact with someone who traveled to any foreign country within 20 days prior to the exam
- Have been asked to self-quarantine by any doctor, hospital, or health agency within 30 days prior to the exam
- Have a fever or are sick
- Have been diagnosed with, or have had contact with, anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 within 20 days prior to the exam;
- reside in a jurisdiction outside of Missouri that is subject to an official travel advisory in effect within 30 days of the scheduled date of the bar exam
Despite these efforts, the code of conduct still has examiners sign with the understanding that they have a risk of exposure to COVID-19 while attending the exam.
These future lawyers know that this exam won’t change their ability to eventually stand before the court.
“I think we should move on with our careers with a sense of responsibility and reverence for the times that we’re in,” said Exposito. “With the confidence that we can make it through this.”