Karnataka Primary Education Minister S Suresh Kumar visited an examination centre in Bengaluru on Thursday as over eight lakh students appear for their SSLC exams, which resumed June 25 onwards, in the state amid steady rise in coronavirus cases.
Kumar was snapped during his visit to an SSLC exam centre in Bengaluru. About 8,48,203 students are expected to sit for the examinations.
The Karnataka government's decision to conduct school leaving exams led to fear and protests by parents and political parties. Several parents and children were seen outside examination centres on Wednesday to assess the safety measures in place.
Meanwhile, a criminal miscellaneous petition has been filed against Minister Kumar seeking registration an FIR against him for conducting the exams amid the outbreak.
"By going ahead with the exams, the minister is putting the lives of lakhs of students at risk. It could be to show his achievement politically, but he is playing with the students' lives," said Adarsh Iyer, co-president of Janaadhikara Sangharsha Parishath, who filed the petition.
The state government, however, seems to have taken this 10-day exercise to hold board exams as a challenge to its management capabilities. Neighbouring states like Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have cancelled their board exams.
Also, it comes at a time when the Karnataka government is mulling a second round of lockdown in Bengaluru amid increasing number of cases. The state’s COVID-19 tally crossed the 10,000-mark on Wednesday.
The exams will be held for 8,48,203 students across 2879 centres in the state. Additional 330 centres have also been set up.
Students from containment zones will also appear for their exams. These students and those who have symptoms of the virus will be seated in separate rooms.
If a centre is falls in a containment zone in the coming days, it will be shifted to a different centre reserved for the same.
Boxes drawn on floors to ensure distancing, thermal screening at entrances, desks placed far apart inside classrooms are some of the measures in place at these centers.
Initially scheduled to be held in March, the exams were given a go-ahead by the high court and the Supreme Court and will continue till July 5.
Students must mandatorily wear a mask throughout the examination, bring their own water bottles and have been asked to report as early as at 7.30am to ensure distancing. Exams will begin at 10.30am.
Former chief minister and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) leader HD Kumaraswamy said the exams should have been postponed in view of the pandemic.
The education minister, however, said the cases may go up further in the coming months as per experts. "He (HD Kumaraswamy) says exams can be postponed to August or some other time, but experts think otherwise. This is the right time for students to write their exams with all the safety measures in place."