The department secretary sent out a pamphlet of ``Examination Contingency Instructions,'' detailing what to do in case ... the roster runs from ``Air-con breakdown'' to ``Fire alarm ringing'' to ``Students/staff suddenly go berserk in exams hall''. If they sent this out in previous years I overlooked it, somehow, despite its useful guidance -- in the case of the air conditioning breaking down instructions include ``open all windows'' and ``switch on all fans.'' No extra time's to be given, though.
They apparently listed the contingencies alphabetically, rather than by likelihood, since two cases of bomb threats were listed before a fire alarm. In case of a phoned bomb threat, step two is ``check the display screen of the telephone to check caller's number.'' You may smirk, but I remember in my graduate student days one chemistry exam disrupted because of a phoned-in (and phony) bomb threat, which came from the dorm room of a person who was scheduled to take that exam. All things considered, that wasn't too difficult a case for Inspector Bazalo. I learned about it because the threat closed for the day the building in which campus cinema would have shown Apollo 13, even though the previous week they'd shown Judge Dredd without a bomb threat. (They'd also shown Tank Girl that weekend, but I liked Tank Girl.)
If the fire alarm rings, we have to wait to get the fire confirmed. If it's a false alarm the students don't get extra time. I suppose it's better to have a policy; in my teaching assistant days I had one final interrupted by a fire alarm, and we just sort of drifted outside and and stood in a quiet group shrugging at one another.
Power failure is divided into three sub-cases. In case a, natural light is available; steps include ``open all windows'' and ``switch on all fluorescent lights,'' which they claim are battery-operated and placed under the invigilator's table that I never saw before. After the exam we dismiss the hall row by row, ``to avoid accidents.'' In case b, natural light is unavailable, but the repair estimate is under 30 minutes, so we simply pause and add extra exam time. In case c, natural light is unavailable and repair time is over thirty minutes, so -- with the Provost's permission -- we cancel the exam and dismiss the hall row by row.
In the event ``Student/Staff Suddenly Goes Berserk (Danger Of Risk To Himself And Others) In Exams Hall'', the procedure includes calling for security and a doctor, to contact student's family, and ``remind student to submit Special Consideration Form,'' as the disruption may affect his grade. I'm glad I know the procedure.
Trivia: Charles Wheatstone cracked the code of a seven-page letter written by English King Charles I entirely in numbers two centuries earlier. Source: The Victorian Internet, Tom Standage.
Currently Reading: Time Lord: Sir Sandford Fleming and the Creation of Standard Time, Clark Blaise.