Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday expressed concern over the Ministry of Human Resource Development’s decision to conduct the pending Central Board of Secondary Education exams in the Capital amid the coronavirus outbreak.

This came a day after Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank released the schedule for the Class 10 and class 12 board exams, which will be held from July 1. The date sheet was originally scheduled to be released on Saturday, but was postponed as the board had to take into consideration “some additional technical aspects”, Nishank said.

In a series of tweets, Vardhan requested the ministry to ensure proper cleanliness is maintained at all examination centres with all hygiene protocols in place. “I convey my best wishes to the students and hope for a bright future for them,” he added.

In a separate tweet, the health minister also wished the Class 10 students of North East Delhi, who would be appearing for their exams. “This exam too was postponed because of the coronavirus,” he tweeted. “My best wishes to all the candidates who are going to appear in the exam. I wish you all a bright future.

CBSE had postponed all examinations scheduled after March 18 for Class 10 and Class 12. The board exams were cancelled in North East Delhi in February because of the violence that broke out in the district. Clashes had broken out between the supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing it between February 23 and February 26 in North East Delhi, killing 53 people and injuring hundreds.

The HRD minister addressed Vardhan’s concerns and said: “We have issued guidelines to the CBSE in this direction. The guidelines issued by the Health Ministry will be followed at every cost.”

Guidelines for exams

Ahead of the exams, the CBSE has issued a set of guidelines for the students to ensure all norms of physical distancing are maintained at examination centres. The wearing of masks is mandatory for students and invigilators during the exam, especially those candidates who have a cough. Earlier, candidates could only bring a transparent water bottle and stationery to the exam halls. However, now the board has asked the students to bring their own sanitisers.

The board had informed that candidates would be made to sit farther than usual to ensure physical distancing. However, the exact details of what this would entail have not been provided yet. The date sheet also mentions that parents should ensure that their child is not sick or undergoing any illness before sending them to the exam halls.

However, many parents have objected to the board’s decision to conduct exams amid the global pandemic, according to The Indian Express. The Parents’ associations called the move dangerous. “We condemn this move, the government and the CBSE will be held accountable if any child is infected,” the association told the newspaper. “They are risking the lives of lakhs of students from across India.”