A meeting between the Centre and all states and Union Territories on Sunday failed to arrive at a decision on when to hold the Class 12 board examinations, PTI reported. Consequently, the decision on holding various entrance examinations also could not be made.

After the meeting, Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank said that the Centre has sought detailed suggestions from state governments by May 25. He said that that “an informed, collaborative” final call will be taken at the earliest after deliberating upon those suggestions.

In view of the prevailing coronavirus situation, almost all state education boards, the Central Board of Secondary Education and the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education have postponed their class 12 examinations. Similarly, various professional course entrance examinations such as Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) Main and National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (Postgraduate)were also postponed.

The meeting on Sunday, chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, was attended by education ministers of all states. Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani, Information and Technology Minister Prakash Javadekar and other officials were also part of the meeting.

Ahead of the meeting, the Central Board of Secondary Education proposed conducting the exam only for major subjects, unidentified officials told The Indian Express. CBSE offers 174 subjects to Class 12 students but only 20 of them are considered major. These include Accountancy, Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, Biology, Business Studies, History, Political Science, Geography, English and Economics.

Officials told The Indian Express that the education board has given two options for its proposal to the government. The first option calls for holding the examination for major subjects in the existing format and at designated exam centres. This will require about three months – one month of pre-exam activities and two months for conducting the exams, in addition to declaring results and another 45 days for compartment exams.

Under the second option, the CBSE has proposed holding the exams at schools where the students study. Usually, CBSE students have to appear for examinations at other schools, which are designated exam centres. This will require 45 days.

The second option will be conducted in two phases held two weeks apart, depending on the coronavirus situation across the country, according to The Indian Express. Any student failing to sit for an examination due to the coronavirus infection will get another opportunity.

Meanwhile, Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Sunday made a case for cancelling the Class 12 exams. She said that students have expressed their concerns about holding the exams amid the second wave of the pandemic.

“I fail to understand the reasoning behind holding these exams, not to mention having stretched this decision out for months,” Vadra tweeted.

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said that the exams for Class 12 should not be held without vaccinating the students. He said that more than 95% of the students appearing for the board exams are above the age of 17 years and six months.

“The central government should ask health experts if the vaccines approved for those above 18 years of age may be given to those aged 17.5 years,” Sisodia said in a video message. “If the health experts give clearance, we should prioritise vaccinating 1.5 crore students who will appear for board exams. Delhi has the system in place to vaccinate all students appearing for board exams in the city within two days.”

Earlier the, the Delhi government had said that “most teachers, principals and children are of the view to cancel 12th Board Exams”. This came after Sisodia sought their views regarding conducting the exams.

“The consensus that emerged from all meetings with these key stakeholders was that in the absence of vaccines to children, conducting any kind of examinations will only make our students and teachers more vulnerable to the virus,” the Delhi government said in a statement.

Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren on Sunday also sought views of parents, teachers and students on the matter.

Several students want the exams to be cancelled, according to various media reports. Many hashtags regarding the cancellation of exams, such as #saveboardstudents, trended on Twitter this month.

Students say that conducting the exams will put their lives in danger in view of the coronavirus infection ravaging the country. A petition regarding this has been started on change.org that has got more than 6,12,435 signatures as of May 23.