The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued a revised SOP (standard operating procedure) on preventive measures to be taken while conducting exams in the wake of COVID-19 crisis in India. A ministry statement issued on Thursday said it's important to plan exams in a way that ensures all preventive measures since a large number of students, parents and staff visit schools during exams. The Centre had allowed partial reopening of schools for students of Classes 9 to 12 from September 21 as the process to ease lockdown restrictions continue across the country.
Advisory for schools
- As per the ministry, everyone, including staff, students and parents, will have to follow the general guidelines at school premises.
- Physical distancing of at least 6 feet (as far as feasible)
- Use of mandatory face covers/masks
- Frequent handwashing with soap for at least 40-60 seconds even when hands are not visibly dirty
- Use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers
- Respiratory etiquette to be strictly followed i.e. covering of one's mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing with a tissue or handkerchief/flexed elbow and disposing off used tissues properly
- Self-monitoring of health by all and reporting any illness at the earliest.
- Spitting will be strictly prohibited
- Installation and use of Aarogya Setu App will be advised to all
Advisory for universities/educational institutions
- Only exam centres outside the containment zone should be allowed to function. Staff or examinees from containment zones should not be permitted
- Regarding students coming from containment zones, universities or institutions may consider appropriate measures
- Exam schedule should be planned in a staggered manner to avoid overcrowding
- Institutions should have adequate room capacity to ensure proper seating arrangement
- Appropriate arrangements for face covers/masks and other logistics should be made available by universities or exam conducting authorities
- Examinees may also submit self-declaration about health status
- Students should also be given prior information on what they should carry
- Adequate manpower should be deployed for maintaining discipline
- Invigilators and supervisory staff need to be briefed on the code of conduct in the context of COVID
- Provisions must be made for display of posters/standees/AV media on preventive measures
- The exam centre should have a designated isolation room for isolating anyone who is found symptomatic
- Ensure proper sanitisation of buses/other transport vehicles in case transportation is provided to students
- Staff that is at high risk (older employees, pregnant employees and employees who have underlying medical conditions) shall not be deployed for invigilation.
- Such staff should preferably be deployed in tasks not requiring direct contact with the students
- For pen and paper-based tests, the invigilator will sanitise his hands prior to distribution of question papers/answer sheets
- Use of spit/saliva for counting/distributing sheets shall not be allowed
- Sharing of personal belongings/stationery shall not be allowed
- Air conditioning devices should be in the range of 24-30 Degree C, (ii) relative humidity should be in the range of 40- 70%, (iii) re-circulation of air should be avoided, (iv) ensure intake of fresh air and (v) cross ventilation should be adequate.
Schools were closed across the country as intial coronavirus cases appeared in February and March. While the Ministry of Home Affairs has allowed several parts of the economy to reopen after months of lockdown, schools and educational institutions had found no mention in the guidelines for past Unlock phases. Even the board examinations for Class 10 and 12 were affected due to the lockdown.