Social distancing, thermal screening, hand sanitisers, only 20 students in a hall, and strict instructions against children huddling together.
Kerala had all the guidelines in place when it became the first state in the country to resume the school board exams that were stalled by more than two months due to the ongoing Covid lockdown.
But it was a challenging task for officials to ensure that the guidelines were adhered to as 4.25 lakh students reached 2,945 centres for the class 10 state board exams, and 29,458 students turned up at 389 centres for the vocational higher secondary tests across the state on Tuesday.
The Class 12 state board exams will resume Wednesday, with 3,79,519 students expected at 2,032 centres. The school exams are scheduled to continue till the month-end.
“We are not approaching the exams with fear, but with vigil. All students have been given masks and pamphlets on Covid-19 guidelines. Students have been told to ensure social distancing, right from the time they step out of their homes,’’ said Director of Public Instruction Jeevan Babu.
Officials said that about 5,000 thermal screening devices were purchased, and over the last few days, all centres disinfected by fire and rescue teams. After the first session, the halls, benches and desks were disinfected again for the afternoon.
And with public transport services still not available in many districts, schools arranged conveyance for students using PTA funds. In many cases, officials said, parents dropped their children at the centres.
“Students who could not clear the thermal screening, were in quarantine, or had family members under home quarantine, were allotted special rooms. They were asked to not hand over answer sheets to teachers, but deposit them in special bags,” said Babu.
For the teachers deployed as invigilators, gloves will be provided every day, and kept in colour-coded packets for disposal.
“Steps have also taken to ensure minimum contact between students and teachers at schools. The attendance sheets were not passed from one student to another for signing, instead the invigilators took the count. The practice of teachers signing the answer sheets and affixing seals at the end was also done away with,” Babu said.