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Playtex brand tampons sit on display in a supermarket in Princeton, Illinois. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Bar exam takers around the country are facing unprecedented uncertainty. In less than two weeks, thousands of recent law graduates will sit down in hotel ballrooms, convention centers and large classrooms to take the test that they have been training for three (or more years) to take. With little notice, several states have cancelled the bar exam because of COVID-19 health concerns. Some states like New Jersey and Florida announced an online bar exam in lieu of traditional testing that otherwise would require hundreds or thousands of people to crowd into enclosed spaces for several hours a day over a two-day period. Oregon and Utah canceled their exams and granted a “diploma privilege” to allow law graduates to practice without taking the bar exam. New York axed its test just seven weeks before the big day, with no plans for an alternate test administration. Other states, including those where COVID-19 infection rates continue to rise, are going full-speed ahead with plans to administer in-person tests later this month.

The judgment of bar examiners that plan to hold in-person tests this summer is seriously in question. Mississippi, a coronavirus “red zone” according to the White House, is requiring test-takers to sign a liability waiver if they want to sit for the exam. North Carolina, another “red zone,” has informed test takers that sitting for the exam will be treated as a voluntary assumption of risk of exposure to COVID-19. Further strange news comes out of West Virginia and Texas. Test takers there may not bring tampons, pads or other menstrual products into the exam. Instead the bar examiners say that they will provide “feminine products” to candidates. Arizona had a similar policy, but wisely walked that back just a few days after a minor social media eruption. West Virginia and Texas should do the same.

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