Despite the fears of the spread of Coronavirus, as many as 43,000 undergraduate students are taking the final-term exams in Himachal Pradesh.
The exams started from August 17 as per the schedule issued by Himachal Pradesh University.
The final-term exams for undergraduate classes were held after the state High Court cleared decks for it on Tuesday afternoon.
On Monday, the university had deferred the exam schedule amid confusion over an order of the High Court, which had on August 14 observed that the university may not proceed with the examination schedule.
The court had issued the order on a petition raising strong fears about the coronavirus spread if the examinations were conducted under the shadows of COVID-19 in the state.
But the Court later on, after a revision petition filed by the university against its order, gave a go-ahead asking the university to strictly follow the SOPs issued both by the UGC and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The Court also asked for the police deployments in sufficient numbers around examination centres.
The Himachal Pradesh University had on July 26 notified the schedule for final-term UG examinations.
“Examinations are part and parcel of the academic functions of the University. We know pandemic is posing a grave threat to the world. No one is sure when a vaccine will be available. So why should we allow the virus to risk the future of the youth and not hold exams?”
Kumar said they will adhere to the guidelines and SOPs issued by the UGC and the health ministry. “We have set up 153 centres wherein social distancing will be followed strictly. For example, against 40 students in a hall, we will make room only for 15. The exams will be held in two shifts. The centres will be sanitised twice. There will be a provision of sanitisers and thermal scanning for every student and staff on duty,” he added.
Nagesh Thakur, a professor of physics and member of UGC asks , “Do you want the students to live with a lifelong stigma of Covid era graduates or postgraduates? The examinations will rather brighten up their future academics and careers. If a student genuinely fails to appear in the examinations, she/he will get another opportunity to reappear soon.”
The reports from the examination centres suggest that there is, however, quite an enthusiasm among the students. The attendance is almost 94 to 97 percent. Some centres even recorded attendance as high as 99 to 100 percent.
Pranay Pratap Singh, the High Court lawyer who appeared for the petitioners seeking deferment of exams, said, “The petition was not against holding of the examinations or for seeking deferment. We just wanted to red flag the genuine fears of the students about non-adherence of the SOP in Himachal Pradesh. After all, it’s about the safety of the students and citizens that examination halls should not become a source of infection.”
With 20 deaths and 4450 Covid cases so far, Himachal Pradesh is still witnessing spread of the disease in some of the districts like Chamba, Mandi, Kullu Solan and Sirmaur. Atleast 20 members of the Chief Minister’s staff have also been tested positive for Coronavirus.
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