Bar Exam Taker Removed From Room Due to Suspected COVID-19

The live, in-person bar exam unsurprisingly had some unfortunate consequences for test takers. One such incident occurred when Alaina Arroyo arrived to take Day 2 of the Nebraska Bar Exam.

According to Arroyo, she arrived on Tuesday, February 22, 2022, around 7:15 a.m. to take the test. Part of the jurisdiction’s COVID-19 safety plan for the in-person bar was to have the temperatures of all examinees taken. Arroyo says there was no one from the health department available to take her temperature when she arrived, so staff told her to get situated in the room where she planned to take the exam.

Carole McMahon-Boies, administrator of the Nebraska Supreme Court’s Attorney Services Division, entered the testing room with someone from the health department about 15 minutes into the Multistate Performance Test, according to Arroyo.

“She had warned me ahead of time that they would interrupt my test to take my temperature. I thought that was weird,” says Arroyo, who claims she was not feeling sick and had no COVID-19 symptoms.

Her temperature was taken three times, and it registered at 101 for each attempt, according to Arroyo. Then, she adds, McMahon-Boies told her to leave the building.

“It was kind of dramatic. She was like, ‘You’re done. Get out,’” Arroyo says. She claims that 4 hours later, her temperature registered at 98 degrees. She also took a home COVID-19 test, which she says was negative.

She thinks her testing temperature was related to things other than being sick, such as experiencing a stressful situation, wearing a mask inside, drinking a large quantity of coffee and having her period.

McMahon-Boies said the state bar cannot discuss a specific candidate but that examinees with fevers at or above 100.4 would be excluded from participating in the exam. Also, McMahon-Boies’ statement says a registered nurse who worked for the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department checked all of the examinees’ temperatures. “Those with temperatures above 100.4 were placed in the next examination cycle without having to pay a new application fee.”

A spokesperson for the National Conference of Bar Examiners told the ABA Journal it could not answer questions about whether other test-takers had experiences similar to Arroyo’s.

The Nebraska code of conduct does not require all examinees to get COVID-19 tests before the bar exam. It does, however, detail various situations in which examinees need to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test, such as testing positive for the virus or coming into contact with someone who had COVID within 14 days of the test.

“I had no symptoms, no exposure or anything,” says Arroyo, who now wishes the state would have required negative COVID-19 tests for all examinees. “I think that would have prevented a lot of problems. There are plenty of reasons why someone might have a low fever when taking a test. If we could have eliminated the possibility it was COVID, that probably would have saved my entire situation.”

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