The Union health ministry on Wednesday released the Standard Operating Procedure to be followed while conducting examinations during the coronavirus outbreak. This includes maintaining at least six feet physical distance, mandatory use of face masks, alcohol-based hand sanitisers, and frequent hand washing with soap.

Only examination centres that are located outside containment zones will be allowed to function. Students who live in containment zones will be given an opportunity to undertake the examination through other means, or on a later date, the guidelines said. The university or educational institute supervising the tests will be in charge of making these arrangements.

The Centre said that students and and the staff will be provided all appropriate arrangements for personal protection gear like face covers or masks, hand sanitisers, soap and sodium hypochlorite solution by the authorities conducting the exam.

The guidelines added that all institutions serving as exam centres should have adequate room to ensure proper seating arrangements for examinations, keeping in view the physical distancing norms. The universities and colleges have also been advised to hold the examinations in a staggered manner to avoid overcrowding at examination centres.

Besides this, the Centre said that all centres should have a designated isolation room for any person found symptomatic at the time of screening or during examination.

Entrance to exam centres

All entrances to the exam centre must have mandatory hand hygiene and thermal screening provisions, the guidelines said.

Only asymptomatic staff and students shall be allowed inside the examination hall, it added. In regular course, a symptomatic candidate should be referred to the nearest health centre and given an opportunity to undertake the examination through other means, or on a later date when the student is physically fit, the health ministry said.

However, if a student is found to be symptomatic and insists on giving the examination, the authorities can shift the candidate to a separate isolation room and sit for the test. The permission for this is to be granted based on the policy issued by the examination conducting authorities, it added.

But if the student’s symptoms deteriorate during the course of the exam, the authorities have to immediately inform the nearest medical facility or call the state or district helpline, the guidelines said.

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Exam functionaries and examinees will also submit a self-declaration about their health status at the time of entrance to the examination centre, the Centre said. If any examination functionary or examinee fails to meet the self-declaration criteria, they shall not be allowed entry.

High-risk individuals

The Centre said that all high-risk individuals such as senior citizens, pregnant employees and those who have underlying medical conditions will not be deployed for invigilation duty or any other task at the examination centres.

They, however, can be deployed for tasks that do not require them to be in direct contact with the students appearing from exams, the guidelines said.

Sanitation and hygiene

Examination halls and other common areas should be sanitised before and after each examination, the SOP said. While undertaking sanitation in the premises, authorities must particularly focus on lavatories, drinking, and hand washing stations, it added.

Cleaning and regular disinfection – using 1% sodium hypochlorite – of frequently touched surfaces such as door knobs, elevator buttons, handrails, benches etc is also mandatory in all examination halls and other common areas.