NEW DELHI: Ahead of the NEET exam in the next week, the Centre on Thursday issued revised SOP for examinations which said that the discretion of whether to allow a Covid19 symptomatic person to write the test will lie with the examination authorities.
An earlier SOP released by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare last week had said that if someone with symptoms insists on appearing in the test, they may be allowed to write it in a separate isolation room with adequate cautionary measures.
A symptomatic candidate should be referred to the nearest health centre and given an opportunity to undertake the examination through other means, or the university or educational institution shall arrange for taking the exam at a later date when the student is declared physically fit.
The latest SOP also stressed that test conducting authorities need to plan out the schedule in a staggered manner so as to avoid overcrowding at examination centres on any day.
"However, if a student is found to be symptomatic, the permission or denial thereof, in such cases shall be granted as per the policy already enunciated on the issue by the Examination Conducting Authorities," the revised SOP said.
“Only those examination centres which are outside the containment zone shall be allowed to function. The staff or examinees from containment zones shall not be permitted,” said the advisory.
Such examinees should be given an opportunity to undertake the examination through other means or the universities, educational institution or agency may consider appropriate measures in this regard, it added. The educational institutions should have adequate room capacity to ensure proper seating arrangement for examination.
Appropriate arrangements for personal protection gears such as face covers and masks, and other logistics such as hand sanitisers shall be made available by centres to the staff as well as students as per requirements.
There should be enough entry and exit gates for students and staff shall be ensured to avoid overcrowding and maintain physical distancing of a minimum of 6 feet, when queuing up for entry and inside the centre as far as feasible.
All staff that are at high risk for developing serious disease in case of infection, such as older employees, pregnant employees and employees who have underlying medical conditions should not be deployed for invigilation or conduct of examination, the ministry has suggested.
The ministry had on September 2 issued guidelines as per which staff and examinees from containment zones shall not be permitted to be physically present at exam centres and there will be alternative arrangements for such students.
Such students shall be given an opportunity to undertake the examination through other means, or universities and educational institutions shall arrange for taking the exam at a later date for them.
According to the SOP, appropriate arrangements for personal protection gears like face covers or masks, and other logistics like hand sanitisers, soap, sodium hypochlorite solution etc. shall be made available by universities, educational institutions, examination conducting authorities or examination centres to the staff as well as students as per requirements.
"Exam functionary and examinees may also submit self-declaration about health status at the time of entrance to the examination centre.
Such self-declaration form may be circulated at the time of issue of admit tickets," the guidelines said.
If any examination functionary or examinee fails to meet the self-declaration criteria, they shall not be allowed entry, the SOP underlined.
Also, only asymptomatic staff and students shall be allowed inside the examination hall, the SOP stated, adding wearing face cover or mask is mandatory.
The face cover or mask has to be worn at all times inside the examination centre by all, it underlined.
Authorities concerned should plan out the examination schedule in a staggered manner so as to avoid overcrowding at any examination centre on any day, the SOP stated.
Examination centres in containment zones shall not be allowed to function, it said.
For pen and paper-based tests, the SOP outlines that the invigilator will sanitise his or her hands prior to the distribution of question papers or answer sheets and the examinees will also sanitise their hands before receiving or handing back these materials.
The collection and packing of the answer sheets at every stage will involve sanitisation of hands.
The answer sheets will preferably be opened up after 72 hours have elapsed post collection of papers, the guidelines recommended.
"Use of spit/saliva for counting and distributing sheets shall not be allowed," the SOP stated.
The examination centre should have a designated isolation room for isolating any person who is found symptomatic at the time of screening or during examination, till such time medical advice may be sought.
A clear policy on allowing or disallowing symptomatic candidates to undertake examinations shall be delineated by the examination conducting authorities in advance, the SOP stated.
(With PTI Inputs)