India: Health Ministry Revises Guidelines For Conducting Exams


The Union Health Ministry Thursday revised its SOP (standard operating procedure) on preventive measures to be followed while conducting examinations to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Among the guidelines, staff or examinees from containment zones shall not be permitted in the exam center.

Staff or examinees from containment zones shall not be permitted. Such examinees shall be given an opportunity to undertake the examination through other means or the Universities and Educational Institution or Agency may consider appropriate measures in this regard.

These centers may plan out the examination schedule in a staggered manner so as to avoid overcrowding at any examination center on any day.

Only asymptomatic staff and students shall be allowed inside the examination hall as per the guidelines and face cover/mask has to be worn at all times inside the examination center by all.

Apart from social and physical distancing in the institutions, appropriate arrangements for personal protection gears like face covers, masks, and other logistics like hand sanitizers, soap, sodium hypochlorite solution, etc. shall be made available at the examination venue.

Exam functionary and examinees may also submit self-declaration about health status at the time of entrance to the examination center. Such a self-declaration form may be circulated at the time of the issue of admit tickets. A simple do's and dont's/ Advisory may also be circulated at the time of issue of admit tickets.

Moreover, students should also be given prior information on what they should carry, which includes exam related documents (Admit card, ID card, etc), face mask, water bottle, hand sanitizer, etc.

Adequate manpower shall be deployed by the Institution for maintaining discipline (to ensure observance to distancing norms and other preventive measures at all times) during the conduct of the examination.

The Number of registration rooms and manpower for document verification and recording of attendance shall be planned duly ensuring social distancing norms.

Meanwhile, invigilators and supervisory staff need to be briefed on the code of conduct in the context of COVID.

The examination center should have a designated isolation room for isolating any person who is found symptomatic at the time of screening or during the examination, till such time medical advice may be sought. A clear policy on allowing/disallowing symptomatic candidates to undertake examinations shall be delineated by the Examination Conducting Authorities in advance, the guidelines suggested.

Entrances to have mandatory hand hygiene and thermal screening provisions. If any examination functionary/examinee fails to meet the self-declaration criteria, they shall not be allowed entry.

"In the regular course, the asymptomatic candidate should be referred to the nearest health center and given an opportunity to undertake the examination through other means or the Universities/Educational Institution shall arrange for taking the exam at a later date when the student is declared physically fit. However, if a student is found to be symptomatic, the permission or denial thereof, in such cases shall be granted as per the policy already enunciated on the issue by the Examination Conducting Authorities," the guidelines added.

Specific markings may be made with sufficient distance to manage the queue and ensure social distancing in the premises.

Proper crowd management in the examination center as well as outside premises like parking lots, waiting areas — duly following physical distancing norms shall be ensured.

Bags or books or mobile phones should not be allowed in the examination center.

The examinees will be taken to a registration room in batches maintaining adequate physical distancing norms for document verification and recording of attendance. Thereafter they will be escorted in batches to the allotted examination hall.

Frisking of examinees, if needed, shall be undertaken after the thermal screening. Personnel involved in frisking shall wear a triple-layer medical mask in addition to gloves. Proper hand hygiene shall be maintained by such personnel every time they change their gloves.

For pen and paper-based tests, the invigilator will sanitize his hands prior to the distribution of question papers/answer sheets. The examinees will also sanitize their hands before receiving such papers and handing them back to invigilators. The collection and packing of the answer sheets, at every stage, will involve the sanitization of the hands. The answer sheets will preferably be opened up after 72 hours have elapsed post collection of papers.

In case of PwD candidate availing a scribe, both the candidate and scribe must wear the masks and be made to sit with adequate physical distancing.

On completion of the exam, the candidates should be permitted to move out in an orderly manner.

The government said that a record of all exam functionaries and students shall be maintained in the system for future reference and traceability. Installation and use of the Aarogya Setu App will be encouraged.

Meanwhile, at least 74% of candidates who had registered for JEE-Mains appeared for the exam last week amid strict precautions in view of COVID-19 even as the attendance figures dipped from 94.32% in the January session.

The Joint Entrance Exam (JEE)-Main for admission to engineering colleges across the country, is conducted twice a year.

According to statistics available with the Ministry of Education, out of 8.58 lakh applicants, 6.35 lakh appeared for the engineering test from September 1 to 6. The exam was conducted after being deferred twice in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NEET (UG) examination is scheduled to take place on 13 September