State-board schools have raised the issue of lack of space to accommodate students for offline Class 10 Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and Class 12 Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) board examinations with social distancing amidst Covid-19 risks. Schools said it is difficult to maintain social distancing and avoid crowding at exam centres as there are a large number of students appearing for board exams.
As per data from the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (MSBSHSE), an average of 15 lakh students in Maharashtra appear for SSC and HSC exams respectively every year. Last year, a total of 3.91 lakh students in Mumbai appeared for SSC board exams while, 3.13 lakh students appeared for HSC board exams in the city.
State-board schools and junior colleges said they might face lack of space to accommodate such a huge number of students while maintaining distancing. The principal of a Worli school, said, "Usually, we accommodate around 40 to 50 students per classroom for SSC and HSC board exams. But this year, we will have to accommodate only 20 to 25 students per classroom if we leave a vacant bench between two students to maintain distancing."
The principal added, "This means we will require additional classrooms. The state board should allot a limited number of students to each exam centre. This will prevent overcrowding and close contact among students in classrooms, corridors and campuses of examination centres."
Also, schools have raised concerns about separate classrooms for students who show mild Covid-19 symptoms during exams. Jaya Kale, a teacher and invigilator, said, "We will need to keep designated vacant classrooms for students who show mild symptoms such as fever or cough. What if a student has fever or cough during a particular exam? We cannot ask the student to return home immediately nor can we risk the health of other students."