Nearly 4.22 lakh students studying in Kerala’s aided and government schools appeared for the class 10 (SSLC) exam Tuesday across 2,945 centres with stringent safety measures in place in the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic.
The examinations, which were suspended in March due to the lockdown, resumed with the Maths paper. Meanwhile, the class 12 exams, also suspended, will resume Wednesday. Exam centres have also been set up in the Gulf region and the Lakshadweep islands.
At the Edappally Government Higher Secondary School in Kochi, one of the exam centres, teachers were armed with infrared thermometers, masks and sanitisers as students began arriving for the examination, a little after 1 pm.
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A police vehicle with two officers was kept on standby to deal with any exigency. A health team and members of the parent-teacher association (PTA) were also present.
Sobhana, the school headmistress, explained the protocol for the examinations. “The students would first be tested for variations in body temperature using the thermal scanners. If they were dropped by their parents in vehicles, they will be tested immediately. Others, who may have come walking in the hot afternoon sun, would be asked to rest for 10 minutes and then tested. That’s because if they walked in the sun, a natural temperature rise is expected.”
“Those whose temperatures are normal can proceed to wash their hands and enter the classroom. Sanitisers are also available. Masks are mandatory. If they don’t have one, we will provide them. Those showing symptoms of fever or cough will be isolated and seated in a separate classroom. Seating arrangements have been made keeping one-metre distance between each student. The classrooms have already been disinfected by the fire-force on Monday.”
In the days leading up to the examinations, the school’s parent-teacher association had met online to finalise the arrangements. It was decided to identify the households of the students writing the exams and distribute masks to them at the ward-level in advance. It was a relief for the school’s management that none of the students there came from quarantined families. “If there were such students, we would have to seat them separately,” the PTA president said.
But another problem arose. Around two dozen students did not have any commuting options from Mulavukad, 12 kms away from the school. “We immediately asked the local MLA PT Thomas if he could do something. A bus was immediately arranged which would pick and drop the students,” said the school principal Sankaranarayanan.
To avoid unnecessary huddling and confusion at the school, the PTA also decided to send details of the seating arrangements directly to the students through WhatsApp. “When they come to the centre, they will know exactly where to sit. There will be no confusion.”
In addition, students have been advised not to share stationery or water bottles with each other. As soon as the exams are over, they are directed to head straight to their homes without interacting with their peers.
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