Students appearing for their Class 10 examination in Kerala have three more papers to write even as the practical exams for students of Class 12, who appeared for their last exam on Monday, have been postponed amid a raging pandemic.
At St Mary's School in Thiruvananthapuram, one of the exam centres, separate classrooms have been arranged for 11 students who have tested positive for coronavirus and for 13 students who are in reverse quarantine - a week's isolation period after turning negative for COVID 19.
This has been the drill from the start of the examinations in early April, when cases were comparatively low in Kerala, even though several other states were reporting steep spikes, and before the rest of the board exams were cancelled across the country.
These exams have involved tremendous co-ordination between teachers, health workers on the ground and governing bodies. But the concerns remain.
Buhari, who is a headmaster, is waiting for his son to come out after his last exam. On Friday, he learnt that the student who shared the bench with his son on Thursday, has tested positive.
"My son had an exam on Thursday. On Friday evening, we get a call that the boy who shared the bench with my son has tested positive. Now i am waiting to take my son for testing. Thankfully, it's his last exam. These are important exams, so the government and schools have to conduct it anyway. Who knows when this situation will worsen or improve. We just want the exams to get over," Mr Buhari told NDTV.
Another parent, Noble Joseph said, "My son appeared for his Class XII exams. My daughter is writing her Class 10 exams and she has three more left. We are very scared when we send our children to write these exams. But what else can be done?"
"Our teachers call the students the previous day, verify their health status. If anyone is positive or in quarantine, we get their details, arrange travel for them if needed and encourage them to take the exam anyway. Separate arrangements are made for them - from gloves, to sanitisers to PPE kits. We have everything in stock and available for anyone who wants it", Father Babu, Principal of St Mary's School told NDTV.
"There are times when the school arranges for the transport. Other times the health officials or local administration help arranging the transport for students who are positive or in isolation. Today the Corporation sent a vehicle to pick up one student. Everyone has been helping", Dr Helen, Chief Superintendent for Examinations at the exam centre, told NDTV.
"Students with Biology as a subject finished their exams on Thursday. Next day we were informed that three students, in three different classes, have tested positive. We immediately informed the Principal, informed all students of the three classes. 19 students, along with the teachers concerned, in each of the three classes have been asked to go into quarantine since their exams are over. Strict protocols are also followed to collect and send these answer sheets", Dr Helen added.
India is witnessing an unprecedented spike in Covid cases with over three lakh for days. Board exams across the country have either been cancelled or deferred due to the deadly sweep of the second wave of the virus.
Kerala, one of the worst hit states by Covid, announced stringent curbs on Monday to control the tidal wave of cases, ordering cinema halls, malls, gyms, sports complexes, swimming pools and bars in the state to remain shut until further orders. On Monday, Kerala reported 21,890 cases of coronavirus with 28 deaths.