As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, most parents say they are worried about the pending class 10 and 12 board exams by CBSE and CICSE scheduled from July 1, and demand that they be scrapped and the result be declared by either calculating the average of tests already conducted or based on an internal assessment.
Several parents have launched an online campaign hashtagged “studentlivesmatter”, “livesoverexams” and “cancelboardexams”.
Four of them have filed a petition in the Supreme Court, urging it to cancel the board exams in the wake of the coronavirus disease, which by Sunday had infected more than 3.20 lakh and killed over 9,000 people across the country.
“Who will ensure the safety of our children? One asymptomatic child or invigilator can infect all the kids in that classroom. The viral load of being in the same room for 4 hours is very high,” Nishant Akshar, a parent, said.
“Other than logistical nightmare, what if the situation worsens? The kids prepare again and at the last minute the exams get cancelled (again). What will be the psychological impact on our children?” Rohini Bhumihar, mother of a class 10 student, said.
Seeing that any improvement in the situation was difficult to predict, Punjab, Telangana and Tamil Nadu have cancelled class 10 exams for their students this year.
The petition filed in the Supreme Court by the parents of class 12 students has sought a direction to CBSE to declare results on the basis of tests already conducted, and calculate the total on average basis with internal assessment marks of the remaining subjects.
Parents have also argued that the CBSE has cancelled the examinations of Class 10 and 12 for its around 250 schools situated abroad and has adopted the criteria of awarding marks on the basis of either practical exams conducted or the internal assessment marks, then why similar approach cannot be followed for students in India.
The board exams, which were postponed in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, will be conducted from July 1 to 15. The competitive exams including medical entrance NEET and engineering entrance exam JEE-Mains have been scheduled on July 26 and July 18-23 respectively.
Universities and schools across the country have been shut since March 16, when the Centre announced a countrywide classroom shutdown as part of measures to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. A 21-day nationwide lockdown was announced on March 24, which came into effect the next day.
While the government has eased several restrictions, schools and colleges continue to remain closed.
According to Home Ministry guidelines, there will be no exam centres in the containment zones.
“Wearing of face masks by teachers, staff and students will be mandatory. There shall be provisions of thermal screening and sanitizer at the centres and social distancing rules will have to be followed at exam centres. Special buses may be arranged by states and UTs for transportation of students to exam centres,” the Home Ministry has said.
The CBSE has announced that the exams will be conducted in schools where the students were enrolled and not at external centres. Both the boards have also given students an option to change their exam district or state if they have moved to a different place during the lockdown.