School students wearing protective masks as a precautionary measure against coronavirus, as they exit after a CBSE Board Examination at Green Park in New Delhi.(Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
School students wearing protective masks as a precautionary measure against coronavirus, as they exit after a CBSE Board Examination at Green Park in New Delhi.(Amal KS/HT PHOTO)

CBSE Board advises social distancing, face masks at exam centres to prevent coronavirus

It will be the personal responsibility of each centre superintendent to ensure candidates are seated at a minimum physical distance of one metre from one another. Whenever the size of the room does not allow this minimum distance, examinees of one room may be split into separate rooms of the same centre.
By Fareeha Iftikhar & Kainat Sarfaraz | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 18, 2020 11:14 AM IST

Maintain social distance in examination rooms, use face masks during invigilation duties and allot separate rooms to students persistently coughing or sneezing -- the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has come with a new set of guidelines to ensure the safety of students writing the board exams amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The Council for the Indian Certification Examinations (CISCE) has also been taking measures at its examination centres in view of the pandemic.

More than 130 coronavirus positive cases have been reported from across the country and three persons have died of the infection.

In a new set of guidelines issued to all centres on Monday, the CBSE said only seven board examinations that pertain to subjects with more than one lakh students were left.

New guidelines are being issued to the superintendents of CBSE centres for these examinations that are to be conducted on March 18, 20, 21, 23 and 24.

“It will be the personal responsibility of each centre superintendent to ensure candidates are seated at a minimum physical distance of one metre from one another. Whenever the size of the room does not allow this minimum distance, examinees of one room may be split into separate rooms of the same centre,” CBSE controller examinations Sanyam Bhardwaj said in the advisory.

The board advised the examination centres to use libraries, laboratories and auditoriums in case they run out of classrooms to maintain social distancing.

The invigilators have been asked to cover their faces with masks or handkerchiefs. “The centre superintendent should ensure availability of adequate face masks in case a candidate is found to be coughing or sneezing and has not bought one along,” Bharadwaj said. The superintendents have been asked to use tissue paper and rubber bands as a temporary measure in case masks are not available.

The CBSE directed the superintendents to allot separate rooms to students in case they are found be coughing or sneezing “persistently”.

Officials said the decisions were taken after queries from parents about the safety of children. “Many students had tagged the board on Twitter and other social networking sites. We want students to write the exams with a free mind and without any fear,” said an official.

Approximately 31 lakh students are writing the CBSE class 10 and 12 board exams this year in India and abroad.

Many exam centres distanced students during the class 12 Mathematics exam on Tuesday. Jyoti Arora, principal of Mount Abu School in Rohini, said they divided the students in smaller groups. “Generally we have 24 students in one examination room in each CBSE centre. But to ensure social distancing, we made 12 students sit in each room instead,” she said.

Gerry Arathoon, chief executive and secretary CISCE, said they asked all examination centres to maintain proper hygiene and ensure availability of hand sanitisers, soap and water. “We are yet to take a call on social distancing. Otherwise we are taking all precautionary measures.”

The National Testing Agency (NTA), which will conduct the joint entrance examination (JEE) from April 5, said they are monitoring the situation. “There is still time for the exam. We are closely monitoring the situation and will come up with some guidelines before the exam,” said NTA joint director Binod Sahu.

Experts said social distancing during examination can be a problem but exams cannot be delayed. Dr Jugal Kishore, head of the department of community medicine, Safdarjung Hospital, said, “It is a problem but examinations cannot be delayed because we don’t know for how long this problem will remain. As a precautionary measure, exam centres can provide washing and sanitation facilities. Some masks can be provided for those with cough and flu so that people around them are safe. Besides, it is a good sign that previous studies show children are not at a very high risk. Though transmission may happen, studies show fatality risk is low among children.”

Preventive measures

Duty of centre supt to endure candidates are seated at a distance of at least one metre.

If room is small, students to be split in smaller groups and seated in libraries, auditorium, laboratories if needed

Invigilators to cover nose and mouth with masks

Mask for students if found coughing/ sneezing

Separate room if problem acute.

Soap and water in washrooms

Candidates told not to stand in groups.

No shaking of hands or hugging

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