The Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) exams began in Karnataka on Thursday amid tight security and rigid precautions amid the coronavirus scare.
The Karnataka Secondary Education Examination Board (KSEEB) on the directions of the state government decided to conduct the SSLC or the 10th standard board exams amid COVID-19 fears.
According to KSEEB officials, as many as 8,48,203students would take up the examination at 2,879 exam centres.
Taking lessons from the pre-university college exam on June 18 where people thronged the examination centres ignoring social distancing norms, the Board officials in association with the health department, police department and transport department made adequate arrangements inside and outside the examination halls.
The KSEEB also roped in the scouts and guides at some places to make proper arrangements.
At all the examination centres students were thermally screened and their hands were sanitised before being allowed inside.
As per government instructions, each bench had one student.
There were standing instructions that there should not be more than 18 to 20 students in each class.
The students were allowed to travel free of cost in government buses or those hired by the department to reach the examination centre.
The department had made arrangements for free transportation of students from the Kerala border to Sullia in Dakshina Kannada district for the Kannada students in Kasargod in Kerala.
Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa wished the students appearing for the examination good luck.
In a message, he said they should write the examination without any fear and appealed to them to follow the protocol of wearing masks, using sanitisers and maintaining social distancing.
Speaking to reporters, he said the government has made all necessary arrangements required for the examination.
The chief minister said there was no connection between the lockdown and the SSLC exams, adding they would go on as per schedule.
Karnataka Primary and Secondary Education Minister Suresh Kumar visited many schools to inspect the arrangements made and spoke to the teachers deployed there.
Speaking to reporters in Bengaluru, Kumar said everywhere adequate arrangements have been made and there was no need for people to be afraid.
He said at a few places some glitches had surfaced which were resolved.
The Karnataka government decided to conduct the examination ignoring the opposition's appeal to put the exams on hold till the coronavirus is brought under total control.
The opposition leaders, especially former chief minister and JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy had cautioned the government against holding the exam as there was community spread of coronavirus.
The exams were scheduled from March 27 but were put on hold for an indefinite period due to the coronavirus induced lockdown.
While the neighbouring states gave students general promotion, the Karnataka government said the exams cannot be avoided because it is a turning point in the academic career of children as they choose their stream based on the exam results.
The exams will go on till June 4.