Mumbai: Create makeshift exam centres for SSC, HSC board exams to prevent Covid-19 spread, say school leaders and parents

In order to prevent the spread of Covid-19 infection and accommodate a large number of students appearing for Class 10 Secondary School Certificate (SSC) board and Class 12 Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) board examinations, the state board should increase examination centres in Mumbai, say school leaders and parents. They have suggested to Varsha Gaikwad, state school education minister, that temporary jumbo examination centres should be created, just like the state made jumbo Covid-19 care centres and facilities in the city.

This year, an average of 3.90 to 4 lakh students will appear for SSC board exams offline while, 3.15 to 3.50 lakh students will appear for HSC board exams in Mumbai. School leaders said the existing exam centres are not enough to accommodate such a large number of students while maintaining distancing, Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) and precautionary measures.

Francis Joseph, co-founder of School Leaders Network (SLN) said, "We need to create more examination centres in an innovative way to accommodate students appearing for SSC and HSC board exams. When the coronavirus pandemic hit the city, many makeshift centres were made to accommodate and cater to large number of people. This mechanism can be followed wherein colleges which are currently shut offline can be used as temporary makeshift exam centres for SSC and HSC board exams."

While, Jagruti Milani, a parent representative, said, "There are many Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) schools that are lying vacant. Some of the classrooms are shut since years. The state government should utilise these schools as exam centres for SSC and HSC board exams so that students can maintain distancing."

State-board schools have raised issues of lack of space and limited number of classrooms at exam centres. The principal of an Andheri school said, "Not all schools are big and spacious to accommodate large number of students. We need to keep at least two to three classrooms vacant at every centre to isolate students who show symptoms such as fever or cough."

This year, Class 12 HSC board theory examinations are scheduled to be conducted offline from April 23 to May 21, 2021 and Class 10 SSC exams from April 29 to May 20, 2021.

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