November 25, 2020
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'Isolation' During Examination- The New Normal

With the government's decision to conduct examinations amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Union Health Ministry issued a new set guidelines to be followed by the educational institutions to prevent the deadly virus from spreading further.

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'Isolation' During Examination- The New Normal
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'Isolation' During Examination- The New Normal

Union health ministry on Wednesday issued guidelines for conduct of examinations amid Covid-19 pandemic, recommending that a symptomatic student may be allowed to take exam in a separate isolation room if he or she insists for it.

“In regular course, a symptomatic candidate should be referred to the nearest health center and given an opportunity to undertake the examination through other means,” the ministry, however, added.

The universities and other educational institutions can also consider to conduct examination for such a student at a later date, when he or she is declared physically fit, the health ministry recommended.

All examination centers should have a designated isolation room for isolating “any person”, who is found to be symptomatic at the time of screening or during examination, till such time medical advice may be sought.

“A clear policy on allowing symptomatic candidates to undertake examinations shall be delineated by the examination conducting authorities in advance,” the ministry recommended releasing a 4-page standard operating procedure (SoP) for conduct of exams across the country amid pandemic.

The permission to take exam in such cases shall be granted as per the policy, it said.

In the normal course only asymptomatic staff and students “shall be” allowed inside the examination hall, it added.

The ministry has also asked the authorities to take “special precaution” for high risk individuals while conducting the exams, barring the educational institutions and the examination conducting bodies from deploying staff from containment zones on examination duties.

“All staff that is at high risk like older employees, pregnant employees and employees who have underlying medical conditions shall not be deployed for invigilation or conduct of examination,” the ministry said.

Such staff should “preferably” be deployed in tasks not requiring direct contact with the students, it added.

The ministry’s guidelines require the educational institutions and other examination conducting bodies to ensure that all “generic preventive measures” are taken for the safety of the staff and students at the examination centres.

As per the guidelines, while the authorities will have to plan conduct of examinations in a staggered manner to avoid overcrowding at the examination centers, they will have to ensure that seating arrangements in the examination halls
are made in such a way that adequate social distancing is maintained.

“For pen and paper based tests, the invigilator will sanitize his hands prior to distribution of question papers/answer sheets. The examinees will also sanitize their hands before receiving such papers and handing them back to
invigilators,” the guidelines stipulate.

The collection and packing of the answer sheets, at every stage will involve sanitization of the hands. The answer sheets will “preferably” be opened up after 72 hours.

“Use of spit/saliva for counting/distributing sheets shall not be allowed."

For online or computer-based examination, the systems shall be disinfected using alcohol wipes before and after conduct of examination.

“Temperature setting of all air conditioning devices should be in the range of 24-30°C, relative humidity should be in the range of 40- 70%, re-circulation of air to be avoided to the extent possible, intake of fresh air should be as much as possible and cross ventilation should be adequate,” the ministry’s guidelines provide.

While examination hall and other common areas “shall be” sanitized each time before and after examination, effective and frequent sanitation within the premises “shall be” maintained with particular focus on lavatories, drinking and hand washing stations/areas.

“In case of a suspect case or person who develops symptoms during the conduct of the examination, place the ill person in a room or area where they are isolated from others. The person will remain isolated while wearing a mask/face cover till such time he/she is examined by a doctor,” it added.

Appropriate arrangements for personal protection gears like face covers/masks, and other logistic like hand sanitizers, soap, sodium hypochlorite solution etc. shall be made available by the universities/educational institutions/ examination conducting authorities for the staff and students at the examination centres.

“Students should also be given prior information on what they should carry, which includes exam related documents (admit card, ID card etc), face mask, water bottle, hand sanitizer etc,” the ministry added.

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