Goa Congress opposes state exams amid pandemic, summer heat

Panaji, May 11 (IANS) Opposition Congress on Monday opposed the Goa government's decision to allow SSC and HSSC examinations later this month, saying holding exams amid the coronavirus scare would put students, parents and school staff at risk.

The main opposition party said that high temperatures would also be detrimental to the health of students appearing for these exams.

“This announcement has sent shock waves among parents, students and faculty members, considering the current coronavirus situation and the scorching summer heat… with regards to the sanitization of exam centres, how will exam organisers ensure coronavirus-free centres when studies show that the virus can remain on multiple surfaces for four to five days?” Congress spokesperson Trajano D'Mello told reporters.

“It is also known that 80 per cent of positive cases in India are asymptomatic. How is the education board going to ensure that students and staff are not carrying the highly infectious virus? What happens if an asymptomatic student comes in contact with another student who could be having compromised health issues?” he asked.

Last week, Goa Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education announced that SSC and HSSC exams would be held from May 20 onwards, which is peak summer time in the coastal state.

According to the norms for the exams, the Board's guidelines state that the headmaster of the school is responsible for pick-up and drop-off of students from all examination centres by following social distancing protocol, which according to the Congress was a “next to impossible” task.

“How can the headmaster ensure that every student is picked up on time, when they can hail from various locations. In case social distancing is observed, each bus would be carrying only approximately 15 students,” D'Mello said.

The guidelines also stipulate that a medical officer would be attached to all examination centres, who would provide glucose, masks and sanitizers to students and those involved in the process of conducting exams.

More than 20,000 students are scheduled to sit in the SSC exams and several thousand more in the HSSC exams (part of which was completed before the March 25 lockdown was announced).



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