Is Covid-19 vaccination a prerequisite to take the CISCE board exams? This is the biggest question students are struggling to answer. No one knows for sure, not even the school education minister, it would seem. Compounding the confusion, School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad tweeted on Thursday asking the very same question - is a jab before the exam mandatory?
She asked the CISCE board whether it was a must for students to have been vaccinated against Covid to be able to take the ICSE and ISC Semester 2 exams. “Some students of the ISCE board have reached out to me regarding an advisory, dated January 4, 2022, issued by the CISCE, mandating Covid vaccination for all those appearing for the ISCE and ISC exams starting April 25,” the minister tweeted.
Gaikwad also clarified on the same thread that “while vaccines are a lifesaver against Covid, not allowing unvaccinated students to take the exam will be discriminatory. I would therefore urge the CISCE to issue an urgent clarification in this regard. My office has already contacted the CISCE on the matter.”
The Free Press Journal spoke to some schools and this is what we learned. Jane Kotian, Principal of Bombay Scottish, Powai, said that vaccination was a precaution, not a compulsion. “The law of the land says it is not mandatory. Parents should take a call on this for their children.”
Sunita George, Principal of Bombay Scottish, Mahim, said that everyone should be responsible for getting vaccinated. “But it is not mandatory for students to be vaccinated before the exam. I strongly believe that at some stage, students should be vaccinated.” Mrs George categorically told The Free Press Journal that “there was no such circular regarding students’ vaccination but for teachers it was compulsory”.
Rohan Bhat, chairperson of the Children’s Academy, Kandivli, corroborated that the board had not issued any directives about vaccination for students. “And it should not be used to debar students from taking exams. The vaccination drive is still on and students are attending schools without being vaccinated so there is no point making it mandatory just for the exams.”
Nutan Iyer, Principal of Diamond Jubilee School, also said that no rule or circular had been issued, making vaccination necessary. “The council had earlier suggested that we encourage children to get vaccinated and with parental consent. In fact, we also received a message that exams can be conducted with pre-Covid norms. So, a two-metre distance is also not required.”
The Free Press Journal has also learned through its sources that at a recent meeting of the CISCE board schools, it was discussed that vaccination would not be made compulsory for children in order to take the exam.