Lakhs of school students in Kerala will be taking exams today for Secondary School Leaving Certificate or SSLC (Class 10) and Higher Secondary School Certificate (Class 11 and Class 12) after centre's nod. Kerala is the first state to hold school exams - that will be conducted over the next five days - from Class 10 onwards after a complete shutdown was announced in March by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to tackle the spread of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19.
Mizoram had conducted exams for Class 12 students last month.
Of 10 lakh students, who are expected to appear for the exams in Kerala, around 1,500 students are from other states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
The state, which has drawn praise for its handling of COVID-19, has procured 5,000 infrared thermometres to screen the students. National Service Scheme among other organisations would be providing for over 25 lakh masks for students for the five days.
"Students have to wear masks. They have to follow social distancing norms. They will be meeting friends after two months. But all of them have been given pamphlets, instructions that these are very unusual times. For everyone's safety, they must maintain distance. After every exam, the classrooms will be sanitised. We have bought around 5 lakh masks, gloves for teachers and staff. Extra staff is being hired on daily wages to help with sanitisation," Jeevan Babu, Director For Public Instruction, told NDTV.
"There may be cases where students arriving for exams may have higher body temperature. They will be made to sit in a separate classroom. Students arriving from other states or from quarantine zones will also be provided with separate classrooms," Jeevan Babu added.
After every examination, classrooms at the exam centres will be sanitised and only after that will next batch of students be allowed inside.
"We have protocols to ensure minimum contact between students and teachers. Usually once student finishes the exam, teachers stamp a monogram on their paper. Students also sign on the teacher's attendance sheets. We have done away with both these practices", Jeevan Babu told NDTV.
Across the state, there are around 3000 exam centres across the state, and around two health workers will be in as many schools as possible, to oversee the screening of students.
Students, who cannot take the exams this time, will be given another chance along with Save A Year (SAY) exams, but as regular students and not as SAY enrollees.
Kerala, which reported the first three coronavirus cases in India, has recorded over 800 patients so far and four deaths. Across India, more than 1.38 lakh have been affected due to the pandemic, over 4,000 have died.