Mumbai: As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state continues to rise, there is a growing chorus from elected representatives for postponement of examinations of Class 1 to 9, as well as of junior and senior colleges.
The state government has clearly said that the ongoing SSC (Class 10) and HSC (Class 12) examinations will continue as per schedule, and that all state-run schools in Mumbai will remain open.
However, it will take a call on deferring other examinations based on how the situation evolves only after a fortnight.
Meanwhile, Mumbai University (MU) is likely to postpone semester examinations that were to start from March 23. The varsity has cancelled all functions, seminars, workshops and conferences till further notice.
Maharashtra Legislative Assembly speaker Nana Patole had suggested that the government pre-pone the exams of Classes 1 to 9, and junior and senior colleges, in view of the outbreak. However, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said it was not possible as of now.
Thackeray, who reviewed implementation of the containment plan put in place to curb coronavirus infection across the state, said on Friday evening that the government could not consider, at least for the next 15 days, bringing forward these exams.
The next fortnight is crucial for effectively implementing measures to prevent the spread of the diseaseand to treat patients who have tested positive.
Thackeray, however, said the government may take a call on the postponement of examinations which are slated for the end of March and early April, after a review.
Mumbai University sources told The Free Press Journal on Friday that the university is likely to take a call to postpone exams for the sake of the safety of students and teachers.
“We have not taken a decision on the postponement of exams yet. But depending on the situation on the COVID-19 front, we will at most postpone exams to a later date,” said an MU official, on condition of anonymity.
Following directions from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, MU has released a coronavirus advisory for all its affiliated colleges as per University Grants Commission (UGC) guidelines.
Universities and colleges have been asked to discourage mass gatherings on campuses. The circular states, “Any student or staff with travel history to any COVID-19 affected country in the last 28 days should be home quarantined for at least 14 days. Faculty should immediately test any student who shows signs and symptoms of fever, cough or difficulty in breathing.”
The university has also instructed all students, teachers and non-teaching staff to maintain basic hygiene, such as washing of hands thoroughly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitiser. In addition, they have been cautioned to cover their mouth with a tissue or handkerchief while coughing or sneezing.
Colleges in Mumbai have allowed students and faculty members to wear masks and avoid coming to college if they have cough or fever.
SM Ganechari, principal of Thakur Polytechnic College, Kandivali, said, “We have stopped using biometric attendance system for college staff. Instead, we have started using the iris recognition system.”
The principal of a Bandra college, who did not wish to be named, said, “We have not cancelled regular classes yet because we do not have the bandwidth and technology to conduct classes online.”