The government remains undecided on when it would conduct the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) exams for classes 10 and 12, but said the exams would be held offline, after February 2021 and the dates would be "announced soon".
In an online interaction with teachers and other stakeholders on Tuesday, Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal added that the exams - which are usually held in March-April - would not be postponed in view of the coronavirus pandemic, but the syllabus has been reduced.
"I received a lot of requests from students and teachers to postpone CBSE board exams for Class 10 and 12. Keeping the COVID-19 pandemic in mind, we have decided that board exams will not be held in February. Dates would be announced soon," Mr Pokhriyal tweeted.
Unlike classes, the board exams would not be held online since "many schools are in rural areas", the minister said.
The government has been consulting students over the issue of conducting board exams and said majority were in its favour.
"The CBSE board exams will be conducted on a reduced syllabus. Thirty per cent of the total syllabus has been scrapped. While some states have declared as much, others are likely to make an announcement soon. There will also be 33 per cent internal choice in the board exam," the minister said.
"We cannot allow COVID-19 to impact students and have them labelled as COVID-era students who passed without clearing any exams. We have organised JEE, NEET this year. They were among the biggest exams conducted amid the pandemic," Mr Pokhriyal said in response to a teacher's query.
Despite widespread floods, partial Covid-induced lockdowns and soaring infections, lakhs of students wrote the engineering and medical college entrance exams - JEE and NEET - in September this year after the Supreme Court dismissed a bunch of petitions saying "life has to go on".
"Our government is in favour of students," Mr Pokhriyal said on Tuesday.
He lauded efforts by students and teachers for conducting online classes during the pandemic.
"Many countries have cancelled their academic year due to COVID-19, but the teachers of our nation continued to work hard and did not let the academic year get wasted," he said calling teachers Corona Warriors - a term used to laud doctors and other frontline workers.
He also gave instances of teachers using unique methods as alternatives to online education.
"Many teachers are imparting education via loudspeaker by travelling long distances on motorcycles... We are using initiatives like One Class One Channel, DIKSHA, Pathshala...around 800 radio programmes are being aired, and classes are also being conducted via television," Mr Pokhriyal said.
Mr Pokhriyal added that state boards are expected to follow suit on conducting offline exams and would declare the dates separately.
Tuesday's webinar was meant to answer queries about whether the CBSE board exams would be conducted online or offline and addresses teachers' concerns shared on Twitter.
The interaction was initially scheduled for December 17, but was postponed after overwhelming response by teachers amid the coronavirus pandemic because of which most schools across states have remained closed since March this year.