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Social Distancing Inside Examination Centres: How Far Is It Practical?

The Union Health Ministry on Thursday issued fresh Standard Operating Procedures (SoP). To conduct examinations amidst the corona-virus pandemic, which involves following precautionary measures. “Examination centres are frequented by a large number of students. As well as their parents, and staff till the entire duration of the exam. Therefore, it`s vital to plan and conduct these examinations, while following specific preventive measures,” the Health Ministry said in the fresh guidelines.

 

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The guidelines include ensuring physical distancing, use of face cover, frequent hand washing, use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers and following respiratory etiquette. It also involves the strict practice of covering one`s mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing, self-monitoring of health by everybody, not spitting and reporting any illness at the earliest.

An important question that arises is the practicality of these norms, is social distancing inside the examination centres actually possible, and if it indeed is possible then how will the government ensure the safety of each  and every student/staff who steps into the examination hall.

 

SAFETY MEASURES

  • Exam functionaries and examinees may submit a self-declaration about their health status at the time of entrance to the examination centre. Such self-declaration form may be circulated at the time of issue of admitting tickets.
  • Adequate manpower shall be deployed by the institution for maintaining the discipline to ensure observance to distancing norms and other preventive measures at all times during the conduct of the examination.
  • Invigilators and supervisory staff need to be briefed on the code of conduct in the context of Covid-19. The examination centre should have a designated isolation room for isolating any person who is found symptomatic at the time of screening or during the examination, till such time medical advice may be sought.
  • Besides this, entrances will have mandatory hand hygiene and thermal screening provisions. If any examination functionary and examinee fails to meet the self-declaration criteria. They shall not be allowed entry.
  • Only asymptomatic staff and students shall be allowed inside the examination hall. In the regular course, an asymptomatic candidate should be referred to the nearest health centre. And given an opportunity to undertake the examination through other means or at a later date.
  • Proper crowd management in the examination centre as well as outside premises like parking lots, waiting for areas. Duly following physical distancing norms shall be ensured. Bags, books, mobiles should not be allowed in the examination centre.
  • The examinees will be taken to a registration room in batches maintaining adequate physical distancing norms for document verification and recording of attendance. Thereafter they will be escorted in batches to the allotted examination hall.
  • Frisking of examinees, if needed, shall be undertaken after the thermal screening. Personnel involved in frisking shall wear a triple-layer medical mask in addition to gloves.

 

CHALLENGE AHEAD

Although the aforementioned steps taken by the government are a huge step towards the successful conduction of the examination.

However, the threat that Covid-19 presents is far greater than anything that we’ve ever witnessed. Hence, it will not be an easy task to follow these norms in an examination environment. Our government has taken a bold decision in getting our nation back to track by resuming with the college entrances. All we can do now is be vigilant and hope this extraordinary move by the government reaps its rewards.

 

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