The Goa government has promised “lockdown arrangements” including thermal screening and a maximum of 12 students in each exam hall, as more than 19,000 students sit for the Secondary School Certificate examination from Thursday. Trained volunteers from Parent Teacher Associations will act as ushers to ensure that students are directed to their respective benches and do not touch other benches.
The High Court of Bombay at Goa Wednesday allowed the state government and Goa Board of Secondary and Higher Education to conduct the exams, which were put on hold since April 2.
The court took note of an MHA correspondence allowing Goa to conduct exams during lockdown. The court was also shown photographs of classrooms where students appeared for the Marathi board exam for HSC — indicating the measures in place.
Parents and children had moved the High Court citing health concerns, pointing to MHA orders of May 1 and May 17 prohibiting exams during the lockdown. Earlier, satisfied with measures promised by the state government, the court said it would not interfere with the government’s decision. On Wedne-sday, as it reviewed the matter, it passed an order stressing “the aspect of safety and well-being of the students and the personnel involved in the examination process will brook of no unnecessary compromises and adjustments”.
As of 6 pm Wednesday, Goa had 43 active COVID cases, all having entered the state either by road or railways.
Advocate General Devidas Pangam mentioned the MHA letter in the court, saying that the MHA noted the “peculiar position presented by Goa” as it sought exemption to hold the board examination for Classes 10 and 12.
“The matter has been examined in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) taking into consideration the factual position mentioned in your letter that Goa does not have a single local active case of COVID infection (except of 39 positive cases of the people travelling from outside) and the onset of monsoon season during which the State will have difficulties in holding examinations,” read the MHA letter, allowing exemption following conditions on social distancing and thermal screening.
Bhagirath Shetye, Goa Board’s Secretary, confirmed the safety arrangements. To ensure there is no fear, the board has resorted to a ‘team leader’. “They will remove any fear the student has and also counsel them,” added Shetye.
Schools have been arranged in Karnataka and Maharashtra for students travelling from border villages to Goa, so that “they do not have to cross the border”.
According to Education Director Vandana Rao, the classroom surfaces have been sanitised, and the Education Board has partnered with the Public Health Department and engaged thermal guns and sanitisers.
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