The Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS), Nashik has finally issued a standard operating procedure (SOP) and safety guidelines in order to conduct summer 2020 examinations of medical and dental programmes amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Students, however, continued to demand cancellation of exams, citing the risks involved in sitting for examinations during the COVID-19 crisis.
The MUHS, which governs all medical and dental colleges of Maharashtra, stated the safety guidelines are based on the SOP of the University Grants Commission (UGC). MUHS guidelines state, "In view of maintaining social distancing, frisking of students before the commencement of examinations will not be possible. Students shall not undergo frisking. Students shall not wear a wristwatch and other items prohibited by exam rules."
The guidelines further stated, “In order to avoid overcrowding and to maintain social distancing, students should be advised to report to exam centres 45 minutes before commencement of examinations. Extra care should be taken for the safety of students and staff during conduction of examinations.”
In addition, the MUHS has released a sample seating arrangement plan indicating students should be made to sit on alternate benches in the examination room leaving a gap between two students.
Except for final year exams of Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) and postgraduate (PG) courses, on July 23, the MUHS deferred final year exams of major medical and dental programmes. Earlier, on July 21 and 22, the MUHS stated majority exams of first year (FY), second year (SY) and third year (TY) medical and dental programmes have been deferred until further orders and revised dates of examinations will be intimated later. The medical and dental exams in Maharashtra were initially scheduled to begin from August 3.
Students have opposed the safety guidelines, demanding cancellation of exams on account of the risks involved in sitting for examinations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
An MBBS student on request of anonymity said, "Neither the seating plan nor the measures to prevent crowding will totally reduce the risks of infection. There are a large number of students in the MBBS programme and students are bound to interact with each other during the examination process at some point or the other. What are we supposed to do even if one student is infected or affected?"
Do’s & Don’ts
· No frisking of students before exams
· Reach exam centres 45 mins early to avoid overcrowding
· No wearing wrist watches
· Sanitiser bottles at entry gates, exam rooms, staff rooms
· Fresh masks and gloves to be used by exam functionaries
· Thermal screening of all the students
· Maintain 2 metre distance between students
· Students with symptoms of fever, cough and cold will be made to sit in separate rooms
· Maintenance of cleanliness and hygiene at exam centres